The current thinking about the confrontation between radical Islam (Sunni Wahhabism and Shi’a Islam almost across the board) and the West is that it is a long war. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, this is a serious issue, probably the defining issue at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century.
I only bring this up (since political discussions are best served elsewhere) to note a parallel within the Christian context about which many believers appear seriously unaware. Biblically speaking, since Genesis 3:15, the seed of the woman (the human race, especially the followers of God) have been in a long war with the seed of the serpent (Satan and those aligned with him, including his human fellow travelers). There have been ebbs and flows to the conflict, but it will remain a war until the final resolution (the final judgment – see Revelations 20).
The implications of the long war designation are significant and include, but are not limited to:
- There can never be real peace. All efforts in that direction are only deceptions by the enemy to advance their own purposes.
- The war is always being fought somewhere. Just because you see nothing happening around you means the focus of the fighting is somewhere else.
- The war is fought on every possible front. There are no areas of life that are not engaged in the battle.
- It is an all-hands war. There are no noncombatants. Everyone is in the fight, whether they like it or not and there is nowhere to hide or avoid the conflict (see previous item).
For Christians, the focus of the war, the real enemy (people are only pawns in their service), is spiritual. For as Paul noted in Ephesians 6:12
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
That does not mean the pawns should not be engaged, they should, but defeating them does not win the war or defeat the real enemy. It is only a tactical victory. The real enemy will find new pawns and will directly attack us anywhere and everywhere it finds an opening (see the list above).
As noted before, everyone is involved in the fight. There are no bystanders. Jesus himself said it.
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Luke 11:23
In the end, the most important battlefield is the heart of every living person. To look back to another leader in God’s side of the fight, Moses, we see the choice clearly stated.
But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today…then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away…I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish…I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. Deuteronomy 30:14-21
It is a choice, one that we each must make. Joshua said best.
Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15
So, to recap:
- We are in a long war and there is no escaping the conflict.
- You are either for God or against Him.
- You must constantly choose whose side you are on.
- The fight is primarily spiritual and defeating the pawns of the enemy is only a tactical victory.
I will leave the implications of all of this on the long war between militant Islam and the West to others for now, but the parallels should be self-evident to Christians.
With that in mind, may God’s grace heal your wounds from battle, may His peace give you respite from the fight, and may His strength empower you in your weakness when facing the enemy, for the fight is the Lord’s, though the choices are yours. Selah.