“Sounds like you’ve been at youth camp.” Steven said, smiling, this past Monday morning as I commented on the song “O Church Arise” that we had sung the previous day.
Our call to war, to love the captive soul,
But to rage against the captor;
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight with faith and valor…
Come, see the cross where love and mercy meet,
As the Son of God is stricken;
Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet,
For the Conqueror has risen!
I love these lyrics, but I told him I longed for a more rousing tune that seemed to better fit their spirit. These were truths to declare with our fists held high, our hearts pounding with adrenaline, our voices loud! Hence the appropriate comment.
Now, I do not believe that the particular instruments or presentation should be what cause a Christian’s emotions to rise, but these ideas should be invigorating (and I did really enjoy shouting them at camp). Too often the great truths of our faith can grow commonplace and while we may not stop believing them, they fail to fuel us with the passion and energy that they were meant to.
One of the key things that Snowbird, the camp that the student ministry just returned from, taught me when I served there was the importance of a wartime mentality in the Christian faith. One day, we will have rest, but that day is not yet here. Right now we wake up to a world swirling with danger and violence, both spiritual and physical, and the Christian is called to take up their armor (Eph. 6:10-17) and dive right in. Both warring negatively against sin in their own heart and injustice in the world and positively “to love the captive soul,” spreading the “gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). Neither of these come easy.
“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”2 Timothy 2:3-4
When people agree to go to war, it brings focus, urgency, devotion, unity. Civilian pursuits fade away. There’s no time to lose. And like the most memorable, cinematic call to arms you’ve ever heard, soldiers thrive on inspiration, on being reminded why they’re fighting and who they’re fighting for. So it is for the Christian.
So a “camp experience” like Snowbird can be a helpful reality check, reminding us of the war-zone we’re in and the fact that we’re here to win. Though I pray for the students, the other leaders and myself, that it would not be a temporary feeling but an enduring perspective that keeps us fighting. I pray we all would find consistent ways to rouse our hearts and raise our swords as the battle rages on.