Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Christian Army - Here to Occupy

Luke 19:10-13 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 

It is interesting to me that Jesus did not say "Battle till I come." That's what most of us think of when we think of the Christian life. We know that we are soldiers. 2 Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. We know that we are in a war.  2 Corinthians 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; We know that we have been given armour, a uniform to wear. Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. But even with all of this, we find that we are an occupying army.

We have seen this occupying concept in the history of our own country, from the occupation of parts of Europe after WWII to the most recent years of ongoing occupation and counter-insurgency efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. What we really have to understand is that we are soldier/statesman (ambassadors) from another Kingdom. As such, we have the power to defend ourselves from the enemy (the world, the flesh, and the devil). But the real warfare is for the hearts, minds, and souls of those who inhabit the kingdom of this world.

We are not here to set up permanent bases. This world is not our home. We are not here get all of those who inhabit this kingdom to adopt the speech, attitudes, and actions of our Kingdom. We are the salt and light. We are the ones that are different and from a different place. We are here to preserve souls and enlighten hearts. The people of this kingdom need to know about our King and how they can become citizens of the Kingdom of Light. So many Christians want to fight each other and everyone else and forget that God has called them to be salt and light.

Doing good is part of this salt and light process. Our armies at this hour are not only fighting the bad guys, but also providing security and resources to rebuild hospitals, roads, and schools. Jesus said,  "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."  Matthew 5:16 Why is it that we in our rush to correct the evils of this world (and there are many) and to evangelize (and that's essential) do we forget that Jesus said that if we do good works the people of this kingdom will come to glorify our KING? That seems to me to be an important missing link.

Now I am not advocating what is known as the social gospel where needs are addressed to the exclusion of the message of the cross. What I am saying is that God has given us good works as a key to winning the hearts and minds so that we may preach the gospel to the souls.

Will all the people of this kingdom end up coming over into the Kingdom of Light? No, but if we do our job as soldier/statesman many will.

Now let's switch gears. The word that is translated "occupy" in this verse very literally means "to busy oneself with, i.e. to trade." In other words, God is telling us to do business here until Jesus, our King, comes back. God has not called us out of the world to some compound on a hill or even to a Christian sub-culture where we don't rub shoulders with those to whom God has sent us. Jesus said, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."  John 17:15

We have a business. Like Jesus, it is our "Father's business." We must use our time, talents, and treasure to serve the interests of our King and His Kingdom until He comes back. Souls are our business. People matter to God let us make sure that they are a priority for us.

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