Dull Christianity is Not Normal
This surprised me when I noticed it one day.
Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe. The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes. So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan. (1 Samuel 13:19-22)
Seriously? The people could not sharpen their own tools? Only Saul and Jonathan had swords? How long had they been putting up with this nonsense?
“This is just the way things are done.”
I thought about the resignation in voices around me this week. How often have we accepted a form of powerless religion as we try to make a difference in our communities?
This is the way business is done.
This is the way politics operates.
This is the way healthcare works.
This is way religious institutions are run.
This is the way we have to educate our kids.
This is the way the rich act and this is the way the poor act.
Occasionally some people bust out of the defeatist attitude and take their tools out to be sharpened – by dragging them down to systems and rulers they don’t trust and paying for the privilege.
Many people don’t even know what their tools are. Even more can’t remember what a spiritual weapon looks like – and they don’t look like the enemies’ weapons.
Did you know that gentleness is a weapon? Did you know you can fight despair with goodness? How sharp and effective is your peace? Can your patience lay siege to a lie a whole society has fortified? Can your joy slaughter cynicism or your love cut racial hatred off at the knees?
Can your gift of prophecy bring the light of truth? Can your gift of healing do an end run on profit-minded hospitals and insurance companies or insufferable waiting lists? Can the knowledge and wisdom the Holy Spirit reveals to you feed the hungry or create jobs? Can your God-given faith move bureaucratic mountains or your ability to discern the kind of spirits motivating propaganda join with those who pray with words beyond their own comprehension to change the course of history?
Can worship set a city on its ear?
Where are the Blacksmiths?
Do you know how to sharpen the tools and weapons Jesus Christ has provided for you? Where are the blacksmiths in our land who can equip the saints to take every thought captive to come in alignment with Christ? (The real Jesus Christ – not the fictitious, inoffensive, mild, straw-man Jesus held up by those who have sort of read about him but have never met the revolutionary who came to change everything by setting us free from the law of sin and death.)
We can trudge on and resign ourselves to feeling like victims of disappointment and subject ourselves to the limited possibilities that the world’s systems offer those who live in gated pockets of temporary personal peace and prosperity. We can guard against the threats coming into our homes with spiritual weapons on the level of blunt sticks and gravel-sized stones. We can shrug as we shuffle off to vote for people we hope will not disappoint us yet again by putting their own interests and philosophies at the top of their list of priorities.
We can complain that this is just the way things are done as we try to cut through walls of thorns with dull knives.
Or we can rise like King David and say “Our hope is in God, our glory and the lifter of our heads! By Him we shall do valiantly!”
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 )
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12: 7-11 )