An Army With Amnesia

“Soldiers of Christ arise and put your armour on, . . . .
From strength to strength go on:
Wrestle and fight and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down
And win the well fought day”

                                                                             Charles Wesley

A bunch Angels were designated by God to monitor the music ministry in churches. They had been doing this for few months when one Sunday morning as they were listening to the opening bracket of ‘contemporary’ songs in a typical church service, one turned to the others and said hey, they’re a bit off key aren’t they, not quite got ‘His’ tune have they.

Of course, the type of music that should be played and the songs sung in church services has always been a battle ground, often called the ‘Worship Wars’. I know from painful experience that it is not possible to get every one to agree on the issue, but what was it that our angelic music auditors had noticed over their weeks of monitoring, something that is common in 21st century services?

A critical dimension mostly missing in ‘contemporary’ music in churches, is something demonstrated in the few lines of Charles Wesley’s hymn ‘Soldiers of Christ Arise’ quoted above. i.e. the significant biblical theme that Christians are by definition 24/7 engaged in a war with the powers of Darkness, what C. S. Lewis referred to as the ‘Dark Power’.

However, listening to modern church music you wouldn’t think so. When did you last sing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’? or ‘Fight the Good Fight’’? or any ‘military themed’ contemporary song in church for that matter? For anyone under the age of forty it would very rare for them to have done so.

This is not an argument for a return to traditional hymn singing, rather it is a call for a recapturing of the biblical concept (essential for effective mission) of the church as an army engaged in God’s battle against the forces of Darkness.

This aspect of the Christian life the Apostle Paul knew only too well as we see in his letter to the Ephesian church (chapter 6:10-20) where he warns the church members of the attack they are under, usually through human agency but Satanic in origin. No less do we face that battle, though rarely will you hear it mentioned in church services. It is the battle against the ‘World’ that Jesus warned will hate us (Mark 13:13), and will haul us before courts because (Mark 13:9, 10) we proclaim the gospel (may even be because we insist our Christian schools can actually do that!)

Yet what we see around us is largely the Church in Laodicea, (Revelation 3:15-17), St Lukewarms, condemned by Jesus as a contented, comfortable, spiritually insipid, religious social club which, like a peace time army, is totally unprepared for the idea of fierce battle. A church where, as surveys show, over 80% of the ‘soldiers’ are not prepared to even talk about their faith. There is no chance that such a church can win the war against the Barbarians, the tsunami tide of which is not just ‘at the gates’ but surging ‘inside the gates’ of society, in our universities, schools, local councils and corrupting the minds of our politicians.

In Australian society particularly, but more generally in most of the former ‘Christian’ societies of the West, all the statistics cry out that the ‘Battle’ is being lost, yet the Church is like an army with amnesia because it has forgotten why it exists and so continues on its slumberous journey towards peripheral irrelevancy.

Fellow Christians, those who have signed up to be a soldier in Christ’s army, it’s ‘Time to Fight’! A call rarely heard by modern congregations.

Soldiers of Christ arise and put your armour on, . . . .
                            From strength to strength go on:
                            Wrestle and fight and pray;
                            Tread all the powers of darkness down
                            And (in the power of the Spirit) win the well fought day”

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