My adult life has survived many wars from afar. The tribulation of the Middle Eastern countries has led to several battlefields some of which are still entrenched in showers of artillery today. Now, when I say I have “survived” these wars it actually means that I am living at the same time these battles are occurring. I have never been in the military, much less a war of weapons. Nonetheless, my acquaintances and I have had much to say about the wars of our time. Some support, others do not; some feel it should have been done in a rush, others with diplomacy; some argue the military in underfinanced, others cringe at the billions that are spent already. I have, on occasion, had opportunity to speak with a member of the armed forces who has actually been on sight during the heat of battles. These individuals speak much differently about war. Their minds are not so much about the business or war; they reflect on the effects of war – the effects both abroad and at home. These men have a much better understanding of war than I do. Even further, the men who have faced battle admit to having a different view and speak of war in retrospect than they did in the moment. In fact, they note that there was very little speak of war at all while in the trenches of battle. In those moments the only things that matter are duty, survival and those you love and hope to see again. The heat of battle tunes a soldier into the most basic elements of war and what really matters therein. In those moments the meaning of war is clear.
and so it is with Christianity…
Much the same as those, myself included, who speak of the business of war from the safety and freedom of U.S. soil, most of those who profess Christ and care to talk of him at all prefer to talk about the “business” of Christianity. We enjoy deep debate, core theology, sing-song worship, receiving blessings, placid condemnation, passive evangelism and knowledge based discipleship – all from a safe distance. We may know others, including moments of clarity for ourselves, who have experienced a deeper Christianity where matters of eternity prevailed our thoughts on self and others. Yet, none of this is the Christianity Jesus calls us to. Jesus calls us to the trenches. Much like the trenches of war, I imagine there is little thought of surface matters. I dare say eternity is not even a prevailing thought in the trenches. The practice of Christianity at the base level will come down to an overwhelming awareness of one thing – LOVE. At the core of our faith is love. Jesus taught this very clearly – love God, love others. He tells us that by faithfully practicing true love, all other matters of the “business of Christianity” will be taken care of.
I choose the trenches; I choose love.