Fifteen centuries ago, the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War. It is the oldest, most read, and most used treatise on war ever composed. It has been used by Napoleon, Mao Zedong, and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. It's contents have also influenced the business and legal worlds. It is mandatory reading for many Japanese executives. The basic message of the book (at least what I've gleaned so far): be prepared for any situation, and be ready to react to changing conditions.
Christianity has a lot of black marks on its history. The crusades of the Middle Ages and other acts of violence carried out in the name of God (and wrongly so) have turned many people off to the true message of Jesus.
And yet, the Bible does show God as being a God of war (and we're not talking about the video games).
Psalm 144 was written by a military man who was facing an enemy. Look what he says in the opening verses of Psalm 144 (you may recognize this as the Psalm quoted by actor Barry Pepper in his role of Jackson the sniper in Saving Private Ryan):
Blessed be the Lord , my rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle;
My lovingkindness and my fortress,
My stronghold and my deliverer,
My shield and He in whom I take refuge,
Who subdues my people under me.
When this was written, the ancient nation of Israel was indeed involved in many military conflicts. Israel's greatest king, David, was known as both a man after God's own heart and a man of blood. He spent much of his reign defending Israel from the attacks of Israel's enemies. The author of this Psalm depended upon God for mercy, for protection, and for deliverance from his enemies.
Fast forward to the twenty-first century. Someone looking at American Christianity would thing God is all about safety, comfort, and security. The Bible authors, however, portray the faith much differently. We are at war, but not against flesh and blood people or political causes. The Bible says our war is spiritual. We're under attack, not from smart bombs or napalm, but from Satan. His arsenal of temptation is powerful. We must rely on God's mercy, protection, and deliverance as we wage spiritual war. It is both an offensive and defensive battle. We must be involved in a faith community, reading and meditating on the Bible, and praying. We must take risks with our faith, never being satisfied with our current level of spiritual maturity. The reason? The enemy will never stop with his attacks.
Are we schooled in the art of spiritual war?
Are we prepared for battle?
Are we fighting the good fight?