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Is the Christian life best understood as a Journey or a battle?

I’ve been spending a good deal of time in the last few months working on our newest book that is coming out in the spring of 2013…Leading Kingdom MovementsBeen tinkering around with it quite a bit.

Wanted to put out a quick thought I’ve been working on in the content for this book that I think you might find interesting…

 

Ezekiel gives us a brilliant picture of the people of God coming together as dry bones assembling in a valley, and suddenly it is a mighty collection of soldiers. Not one, but a whole army.

It is true that in the Kingdom we are called to be soldiers. But we must remember we are also a covenantal community, which means we are a family. The picture Ezekiel gives us is of a family of soldiers. There needs to be as much emphasis on the family as there is on the soldiers.

What I’ve noticed is that faith traditions tend to veer either towards the Covenant side (family) or the Kingdom side (soldiers). For those who lean on Covenant, life is about the JOURNEY that the covenant community is making together. They live rich, full lives together, but often win very little ground for the Kingdom. On the other side, for those who lean more toward Kingdom, life is about the BATTLE that is being fought for the Kingdom. Often they gain ground for the Kingdom, but they can quickly lose that ground because there are so many casualties along the way. That happens because they don’t attend to the family as well.

It has to be both covenant and kingdom. It’s a family of soldiers. It’s about a journey through life together as we fight Kingdom battles along the way.

Again, people are often uncomfortable with the one (Journey vs. Battle) that they have seen poorly lived out and throw the baby out with the bath water. But the true task is living out both in a way that does justice to the way the scripture understands the Christian life.

 

 

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7 Responses to Is the Christian life best understood as a Journey or a battle?

  1. NoahStepro 2012/12/11 at 5:28 pm #

    Mike, I love this thought and the tension illustrated between these two poles. I was listening to one of your talks on healing a while back – you said something that has stuck with me and been quite formative in our church ever since – that our lives are set in the midst of an epic battle between good and evil…that this is the backdrop of Scripture and quite normal for Jesus and the disciples, but quite bizarre for modern Westerners. Anyways, loved it and am looking forward to the new book

  2. realcraiggaudion 2012/12/11 at 6:03 pm #

    Hi Mike,
    I agree with this. Coming from a Salvation Army background, I can definitely see that in our terminology, our songs, our name(!) as well as how we’ve generally “been” church this past 140 or so years we’ve certainly veered towards the kingdom side of things to the expense of the covenantal element that makes up the people of God. Particularly, as a new church leader, I’ve inherited a local Salvation Army church that has greatly suffered over the past 30 years or more because there was lots of effort to save people from the streets, hand them a role (I think you called it ‘plug in and play’ in a recent book), and get them ‘doing ministry’. Not wrong itself, but the desire to make people members and co-warriors, so I am told, far outweighed the desire to actually make disciples, people growing to become more like Jesus, sharing vibrant and passionate life with others, being uplifted and empowered in prayer, praise, bread-breaking and seeing signs and wonders bursting out all around them through the power and presence of God’s Spirit working in them…
    Hence why we now have a church of just 15 people in our congregation, four of which actually do everything, with the rest now spectators…. So I’m doing what you’ve campaigned for in your material… attempting to build a discipleship culture to readdress the balance. Here’s hoping its not too late! Thanks for your inspirational thoughts as always. It’s certainly helped me to find out why I do what I do.

  3. Alan Gross 2012/12/12 at 6:13 am #

    Great thought! Are we not the only true (forgive the gender insensitivity) “Band of Brothers”?

  4. Luke Dalach 2012/12/12 at 12:02 pm #

    I like this a lot Mike. On my bike ride this morning, I was just thinking about something similar: how in the NT the two main images of God’s people are ecclesia (the gathering of Kingdom citizens of the city to do the Kingdom work of the city), and oikos/household/family (with God as Father.) I really think your message here is a much needed balance for the fractured American Church.

  5. Lisa Bergren 2012/12/16 at 2:44 pm #

    Such good words, especially after these hard days in the States. How we need both…family and fellow soldiers. May our communities become living examples!

  6. James English 2013/01/01 at 2:22 pm #

    Mike,
    Good thoughts, brother! I had an interesting picture come to me the other day along these lines. The Father has been honing a message of community in me for the past 10 years, and it’s growing to a passion. It’s coming out of my understanding that God is himself community, and he longs for us to live within Him. That the “family side” of the equation. As I meditated on this, the picture of me raising a military banner came to mind–and it was clear that the banner wasn’t just to “rally the troops”, but to lead them to assault the enemy strongholds.
    I’m thinking if we could interview Jesus half way through his earthly ministry, and ask him what he was up to, he might answer,
    1. I’m creating a community that will change the world, or
    2. I’m getting ready to crush the works of the evil one,
    And they would both be true!
    Keep up the Kingdom work, my Friend!
    James

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  1. Journey or Battle? « Christianity 201 - 2012/12/11

    [...] thoughts today are from Mike Breen where this appeared under the title: Is the Christian life best understood as a Journey or a battle? ’Ive been spending a good deal of time in the last few months working on our newest book that is [...]

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