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THE CHRISTIAN'S WARFARE
CHRISTIANITY is warfare. But its warfare begins and ends at the Cross of Christ, and the victory announced at His resurrection. The famous Arabic poet, Ahmad Shawgi, embarrassed the Muslim world when he wrote in one of his collections how Jesus fought and won through different means from that of the Muslims. He says the Cross was wood, not iron with a sharp edge. And speaking again in another poem written as a tribute to Christ on a Christmas day, he says: "Essa, your way, mercy and love, of innocence among men, and peace as a dove. You were not the one to shed blood, nor one that neglected the weak, nor the orphan." One thing about us is that we are servants of the God of the Bible. We do not have many enemies: we have only one enemy, Satan, and he has already been defeated by the Cross and the Resurrection. All others -- humans and demons -- are just his servants and agents, and we know how best to deal with them. According to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, "the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
It is not even because we have such teachings that we do not fight physically. It is rather because we have "the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16). The Quran itself has acknowledged Christians as loving everybody and even their Muslim enemies! (Surah 5:82-85). That is our calling. It is no weakness. "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45). Our God is a God of love, and according to the Scriptures, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost" (Romans 5:5) at the time of our conversion. This kind of love cannot be faked, neither can anyone have it except he is born of, and by, the Spirit. Even if Muslims fake many things in Christianity, they can't fake our love. Hallelujah!
The Bible, no doubt talks of Christians fighting and warring. But it makes sufficiently clear that "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, (physical human beings) but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." and therefore, "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, (physical arm, cutlasses, swords, guns, knives, matches and petrol, bows and arrows) but mighty through God to the pulling dawn of strongholds;" (Ephesians 6:12 & 2 Corinthians 10:4).
During the religious crises in Northern Nigeria, a section of the press gave the impression that both Muslims and Christians were fighting. The assumption was that it must take two to fight. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If Christians had reacted accordingly, there would have been another terrible civil war in Nigeria. Christians do protest verbally sometimes, but we have a teaching from our Lord to turn the other cheek, and this guides us in the face of all provocations. It is the Lord's doing to turn our enemies against themselves, and then save some of them into His fold. And we thank God for what He is doing in Northern Nigeria now in terms of conversions from Islam.
We have never been moved by the provocative Islamic pamphlets, videos and cassettes of Ahmed Deedat and his elderly pupils in many places. We do not believe we have to defend the truth. Truth is always victorious. Yes, we win without any noise and without physical weapons. The Apostle Paul enumerated all the six weapons of the Christian warfare, namely: the belt of truth buckled around (our) waist with the breastplate of righteousness (holiness) in place; our feet fitted with the readiness (soldiers' boots) that comes from (preaching) the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, taking up the shield of faith with which we extinguish all the flaming arrows (dangerous teachings) of the evil one (that can destroy our faith). Taking up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, and always praying in the spirit. (Ephesians 6:10-18). The imagery evoked here is that of a Roman soldier, but it is clear from the passage that none of these weapons is physical. They are all spiritual. Jesus Christ rebuked Peter who used a physical sword to defend Him, and then restored the ear that was severed, making Peter realize that His not fighting physically did not mean He was weak. But that the weapons of the Christian warfare are MIGHTY THROUGH GOD, and therefore, more powerful than any physical thing. Moreover, He surrendered himself to be killed not because His enemies were stronger, but so that His followers would know: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father" (John 10:17-18). He said this a long time before He died.
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