Christmas is an invasion. Not just the kingdom of God invading the earth, but God himself, invading the earth. In Person. Oh, how I love this!
I went with a friend to her church this past Sunday, this fourth Sunday of Advent. I went hungry for the holy. Knowing this is a particularly good church, I was excited and expectant…ready to encounter Jesus. The singing began. I can’t call it worship. Darn it. It was singing. Before the last song, the worship pastor had a “word” for the body. It’s was a pretty common word. I’ve heard it before. So have you. It went along these lines.
“The LORD is a warrior. All battles are His. You are not meant to fight. Some of you are inviting the battle into your life by fighting. God wants you to surrender and rest in Him.” Raise the white flag. Don’t engage in warfare. God doesn’t want you to do what he said to do in James 4:7 or in 1Peter or in Ephesians. The armor of God thing…don’t need it. Don’t bother. OK, I’m ranting. The “word” was as unbiblical as it was unhelpful. (And lest I make the same mistake he did by speaking in sweeping generalizations, yes, there are times when we are not to fight, the battle is not ours and we are to express our faith completely by resting in God…and yes, there are times when we cannot fight and need the body of Christ to intervene on our behalf…and yes, fighting is not striving…oh – how we need an intimate walk with Jesus!)
As I listened to the man, who is a good man, I asked…”Is this for me, God? Am I taking on battles that aren’t mine to fight?”. No, he says. And then I wondered…where are the people who need to hear a word like this? I haven’t met them. I’ve seen and encountered and experienced a lot of fear and passivity. I haven’t encountered a bunch of warriors out there swinging the sword of the Lord around willy nilly looking for fights that aren’t theirs. But these folks must be out there somewhere because a lot of pastors and teachers are telling them to stop it.
The pastor came up after the final song and began to give his very Biblical message. It was about how Jesus’ coming in the manger was actually an invasion. About pulling back the curtain and looking at Revelations and reading the account of the dragon waiting to devour the child. It was about the bigger picture, the larger story, the miraculous breaking into this world. HOORAY!
My sons are home for Christmas. This makes a mother’s heart very happy. I am cherishing them and this time. Last night, we went together to see the movie Tron. Spoiler alert! It is a movie about a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue! Sound familiar? It is a story about a Creator and things going wrong, and the battle between good and evil and the good needing to be rescued. The Gospel was in there! Someone knows we are in a battle between good and evil and that we are required to rise up.
At the theater, we were sitting behind a row of teenagers. A gaggle of them. About twelve young men and women reeking of marijuana. And I do mean, reeking. I could see them as well taking swigs out of the bottles they brought in knowing they had smuggled in alcohol and my heart broke for them. They were a bit loud. A bit rambunctious. A bit irritating and a bit smelly.
I watched the movie but I also watched them. After the movie, I wanted to talk to the young woman sitting in front of me. I lingered. I went to the bathroom. I prayed. I hoped and expected her to come into the bathroom. See, I was once that girl. But the invasion of the kingdom of God broke into my life and I have been rescued. I wanted to tell her that she could be rescued, too!
She didn’t come into the bathroom.
When I finally came out, there was the whole group of teenagers standing in a circle. My sons were over by the door waiting for me and I hesitated…looked at the group, looked at my sons…and then completely compelled by the love of Christ, I walked up to their circle. “Did you enjoy the movie?”, I asked. Yes, they most emphatically did!
I told them that I had been sitting behind them. That I saw and smelled how totally stoned they were…that I saw them drinking too. And then I told them, a few things that I hope will haunt them beautifully. I told them that part of the movie was true. That there is a Creator and his name is Jesus. That I was like them at their age but I had been rescued. That there is another way to live. A better way. That sometime in the future they may remember the words of the crazy lady after the movie…it may come back to them. And I hope they remember the name Jesus and that they are so very deeply loved.
They were amazingly silent and sober as I spoke. One young man said thank you before I left with longing in my eyes. Some of them laughed as soon as I got a few steps away. Of course they did! But oh God, may they remember.
I don’t do that often. But I pray to do it more. To follow Jesus and obey. To speak what he tells me to speak. To love. To offer. To risk. To invade.
See Jesus has passed the baton to us. The scriptures say “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. (Matt 11:12). It is an invasion. An invasion is active. An invasion is strong. Yes, the kingdom of God is advancing and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. But the kingdom of God is not advancing from a silent, surrendered couch.
Submit to God. Resist the devil. Take your stand. Fight the good fight. Let the invasion continue. Yes and amen and a happy, holy and merry Christmas to you and yours!