Not on Defense!

This has been bouncing around in my heart for months now, and I thought Good Friday might be the time to finally share.

IMG_9097 Did you know . . . {probably not, because if we’re honest, what’s going on where I live isn’t really front-page news anymore} . . . but did you know that things are gearing up to make a move to liberate Mosul within the next few months to a year? Maybe we should take a step back, did you know that there have been families trapped in Mosul for two years now, with ISIS as the reigning government, blockading the way out? Can you imagine? Can you imagine confining your life to a sector of a city, and constantly living in fear, with not even the hope of a treacherous journey to a state of refuge on the horizon?

Well, hopefully that is all about to change in the near future.

But, as it’s been in the buzz around me for the last week, I’ve been thinking about it. What will be the triumph when that capital of terrorism is defeated?! It’s exciting to think about. And as terror inducing as ISIS is, isn’t it amazing to think that their stronghold is under threat of falling as various forces converge together to attack?

Which gets me back to this thought that has been in my heart since November. I was at a conference when I heard someone speak on Matthew 16:18,

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

I love the church. Over the last five years, I have really grown to understand and love the church even more. But this verse never really struck me until the speaker pointed out that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church. 

How often do we, as Christians, as the church, bemoan the fact that the world is against us? Planned Parenthood, the American government, terrorist groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Qaida, the public schools . . . and the list goes on. We talk about how it is becoming harder to be a Christian, or that persecution is rising. Right or wrong, we accuse the world of trying to stamp us out, to stifle us, to kill our faith.

Friend, we need to stop acting like we are on defense. The world is not out to get us. The world is trembling and throwing up any defense they can find, because the Gospel is real and it is beating down their gates!! And you know what? They are not going to prevail!!

Sin is rampant in this world, and I am not going to argue with you about that. But, it is not in control. God is. They can’t stamp us out or kill our faith. They already tried that, and we were complicit, don’t forget. We were part of nailing the perfect Lamb to that cross; we were the ugly blight that caused the Father to look away. We were the ones that God chose over His own Son, and that killed Jesus.

But . . . but! But He couldn’t stay down!! Because He is already the victor. Even death cannot defeat Him.

And if we play with the power of the resurrection behind us, how can we ever imagine that we are on the defense? Why do we whimper and cower, evoking pity because our rights are stepped on?

Get up. Pick up your head, breathe in the resurrection, and go beat down the gates of hell!

Yes, it’s hard. Why has God equipped us with His armor if we wouldn’t need it? Being on offense doesn’t mean that we have it easy, it means that we are expected to give, to fight, to conquer. We don’t retort with whining or cheap shots, because we know we have the win in the bag. But we expect the whining, we expect to be barraged with shells aimed at hurting our supposed rights . . . that’s what the losing team always does!

Dear friend, today we commemorated Jesus hanging on that cross, giving them the idea that they had won. But Sunday is coming, and just you wait. We will remember the awesome triumph with which he emerges from that tomb, and we are to never look back again! Jesus will never hang on that cross again!

From here on out, hell is holding up its gates and putting forth its best effort to not crumble under the advance of the church. But it will. It will crumble in the end. Chip away where you are friend, chip away with the confident knowledge that the victory is ours.

We aren’t on defense.

Head up.

Will ISIS fall this year? I hope so. But I don’t know. You know what I know? In the end, Jesus wins, and hell cannot prevail against us, His church.

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*pictures taken in Ninevah, Northern Iraq

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