Thank you, Seth, for your correction and wisdom. I see areas of my life in this new church where these issues are alive and well in my heart. You’re another person speaking into this area of my life that I need to hear and respond to with humility and prayer. God, please help me to love even those whom I disagree with, or who wound me.
Ephesians 6:13-14 “…Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…”
In Jesus’ time a Roman legion held a certain formation when it would take on the enemy. This formation was itself a form of armament. Each soldier stood side-by-side, shield-to-shield with his brother soldiers. Together they formed an impenetrable phalanx. Each soldier protected the flanks of those next to him. It was essential, therefore, that under enemy onslaught, no one would break ranks. If you were to drop your shield, not only would you expose yourself, you would render vulnerable those on either side of you as well.
Soldiers had to maintain discipline and live under authority. To do less would be to put the regiment at risk. To maintain the integrity of the formation in the face of an advancing enemy, the regimental commander might shout, “Stand! Stand!”
So too, the Christian must recognize that in standing firm against enemy attack, he not only protects himself, he protects the brother on either side of him. We must not give in to fear, self-pity, or a lack of discipline. When we drop our shield of faith, the regiment that is our team or local body of Christ is subject to attack.
This happens in obvious ways when we allow our witness to slip and our poor testimony hurts the body of Christ. It also happens in more subtle ways as we criticize others in the body of Christ, causing our brothers and sisters to turn their shield away from the attacking enemy into a defensive posture against one another. As we break formation, we fail to heed our commander Jesus’ order to “Stand! Stand!” We not only expose ourselves to attack, we open a weak spot in the body of Christ for the enemy to attack. Thus are whole churches thrown into turmoil as their focus is turned inward when church members attack one another.
To implement the discipline of standing, try these ideas:
- Learn how to implement the Matthew 18 principles of peacemaking.
- Identify the different ways in which you feel enemy attacks and pray for protection against them.
- If you experience moodiness and inconsistency, submit to the accountability of your discipler.
- Learn the strengths and giftings of the brothers and sisters in your local body.
- Practice leaning on the spiritual gifts of your brothers and sisters. Stir up the gifts in them.
- To better persevere, get more discipline in your life. Chances are you’re too soft.
- Meditate on how to implement Romans 15:7.
- Deal sternly with any lingering authority issues. Trust must be learned and practiced.
- Tell stories. Debrief regularly.
- Do you have a history of getting into conflict with others? If so, you must learn to stand firm, in unity with them. How will you do this?
- Are your expressions of criticism, sarcasm, or defensiveness diminishing? What kind of humor do you use?
- To make progress, the issue of authority must take root in your life. Do you give expression to the authority you have in Christ?
- What are some examples of “breaking of the ranks” that occur through criticism, or simply a failure to accept one’s brother or sister, warts and all?
“Lord, has my independent spirit gotten in the way of what you are wanting to do within a team?
Have I missed true koinonia because I’ve been afraid to be vulnerable?
What do you want me to do today that would help me to grow as a team player?”
sounds so easy. this is incredibly difficult.
I read this and find that I fall short in most of the areas through which I should be persevering. I find that my criticism of “the Church” reflects my own insecurity. Indeed, I am too soft.
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