A real culture warrior

Published 11:14 pm Friday, November 7, 2014

By Chris Surber

The culture wars rage as Christians have their faith co-opted by self-serving political parties.

Political structures care about one thing — getting and keeping power. That’s how the kingdoms of this world operate. But that is not how the Kingdom of God operates.

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Christian, guard your allegiance. Are you waging the war to which you have actually been called? Are you doing it God’s way?

There is a fascinating teaching of Jesus found in a collection of instructions on how to deal with enemies in the book of Matthew. “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (5:41 ESV)

What Jesus is talking about is the common practice of Roman soldiers in that day to require a civilian to carry their backpacks. Those packs could weigh up to 70 pounds. Roman authorities allowed the soldiers to compel a civilian’s help, but for only one mile.

They wanted their soldiers to get where they were going without becoming exhausted, but they didn’t want to anger local subjugated populations by forcing too much labor upon them.

What Jesus is telling His followers to do is much more drastic than it may seem. If a follower of Christ demanded that the solider allow him to carry the pack a second mile it would have created a real dilemma for the soldier.

Was the citizen setting up the soldier to file a complaint with the local Roman authority? The soldier would be subject to severe penalty for violating Roman law if found guilty. It would have confused the soldier greatly. And if the soldier was a man of any substance, it would have highlighted to him how unfair and unkind the practice was.

In essence, Jesus was showing His followers how use love to snatch power back from a dominating world system. In demanding to go two miles instead of only the one mile requested, the follower of Jesus was conquering superior force with superior love. He was introducing an entirely new way of waging war against a corrupt and domineering society.

We need to do the same. Followers of Jesus are not called to get more political power than the other guy to somehow Christianize society. We are called to serve society with sacrificial love that demonstrates the power of the Cross.

We aren’t called to conquer. We are called to submit. We aren’t called to be culture warriors. We are called to carry the pack of the warrior as a demonstration of the unparalleled love of Jesus Christ.

If the King of Kings came into this world to die on a cross and we are His followers, what makes us think our interaction with the world should be any less sacrificial? We are servants, not masters. Our war is fought through sacrifice, not domination.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.