Church Militant

Militant seems a little aggressive for a description of a church, doesn’t it?  Militant is a term that has been used to describe terrorism in recent history.  When it is used to describe the church all it refers to is how the church struggles under the weight of the cross.  This includes – but is not limited to – persecution, temptation, and benign suffering like sickness and poverty.  The opposite of the church militant is the church triumphant.  That is the church militant refers to Christians living in a sinful world, clothed in sinful flesh, and tempted by the devil.  The church triumphant is one in glory with her Lord Jesus.

If you are happily reading this blog post, you are in the church militant.  The struggle is real!  There are some parts of the world where Christians face a daily barrage of persecution.  That isn’t really the case in the United States.  That doesn’t mean we don’t have a cross to bear.  Temptations are very real everywhere, but ours might be different than what is faced half way around the world.

Let’s take a moment and nail down exactly what a cross is and what a cross is not.  A cross that a Christian must bear is not necessarily anything that is “bad” or “wrong” in life.  For example getting the flu isn’t necessarily a cross, people get sick all the time, but if you are starting to doubt God’s love for you, it has become a cross.  The example from the sermon I offered was a Henderson County Sheriff’s Deputy who was killed responding to a call very early Saturday morning.  The suspect acted like he was complying and then whipped out a gun and shot Ryan Hendrix in the face.  Ryan didn’t do anything to deserve this fate.  His God who loved him sent Jesus to pay for his sins, just like he did for ours.  God loves Ryan’s two small children.  This will be a cross for them as they grow up without a father.  The why can only be found in a sinful world.  This is where the church is militant – it struggles together.  I don’t know Ryan, but on Sunday morning we prayed for him and all first responders who keep our community safe.

Before I leave I need to explain what we can do when we have taken that cross.  First we can pray that God would remove the cross.  That isn’t bad at all!  God doesn’t enjoy watching his children suffer.  In answer to that prayer God might 1) take the cross away.  He might 2) give us the strength to bear under the cross, as he did for Jeremiah from the Old Testament lesson.  Finally 3) he might remove us from the cross.  That is, he can take us to heaven where we will finally be free!

Want to hear more?  Watch this Sunday’s Message, The Church Militant, taken from Matthew 16.  It is part of our series One Foundation, a study of the Christian Church.