The local church is the front line of ministry. In the battle against the spiritual forces of evil, the church is the trench. Christ’s bride is dug in, charged up, and ready to die for the freedom of souls. I relish the trench. It’s messy, at times gruesome, and the noise makes it difficult to sleep.
But I love it.
While there is no beauty in warfare (spiritual or otherwise), the battling bride is a gorgeous organism. Despite the muck, despite the damage, and despite the fight, she remains pure, white, and righteous. She belongs to Christ. She combats for Christ. She never stops engaging in the mission of reclaiming captives of darkness. The fighting white bride shines in the gray of spiritual war.
As a pastor, I realize the gravity of decisions I make. Vision isn’t just a compelling statement of future growth. Programs aren’t just tools for assimilating more people. Church events are far more than ways to make the community come to the campus.
When you invite someone to church, you’re calling them down into the trench. When you talk to someone about joining the mission, you’re asking them to suit up and grab a gospel grenade. The church is currently fighting a battle which will lead to ultimate victory. We win. Satan loses. And Jesus reigns. But we still must fight. The beautiful bride is a battling warrior.
Let’s stop pretending our churches are polished platforms of sanitized morality, speaking sentimentality apart from Truth. Let’s burn the preferences of wooden traditionalism. Let’s quit the silly game of worship experience one-upmanship. Let’s elevate spiritual grit above smooth and seamless operations. We’re in the middle of a serious war. Let’s get real about what we believe and who we’re really following.
When King Jesus returns, will he find the faithful in the trenches or in comfortable country clubs?
So we dig in. War is not won when soldiers retreat. Victory does not come to indifferent combatants. I’ve been guilty of placing myself on a pedestal. I’ve tried to climb into the ivory tower. I’ve ridden a few high horses. And I’ve found I’m at my best when I’m covered in mud in the trench of the local church. I’m fighting most fiercely when I’m not worried about my personal brand. I’m fighting well when I’m more concerned about the local pregnancy clinic than who retweets one of my pithy—but ultimately useless—140-character oddments.
So I fight.
I fight for people in the womb.
I fight for diversity in the local church.
I fight to help the poor.
I fight against injustice, and I fight for the widow.
I fight for every tongue, tribe, and nation.
I fight so sinners can clearly hear the deafening and all-consuming gospel.
The trench is the front line. I never want to leave until the battle is done. I want to die here: old, leathered, scarred, and exhausted. I can’t imagine approaching the throne of God unless I’m ready to collapse into the arms of Jesus.
I won’t stop until King Jesus returns, offering the victory promised. God, please don’t ever take me out of the trench. I want to die fighting.