The historic Dunker church at the Antietam Battlefield

The historic Dunker church at the Antietam Battlefield

I stopped by the Antietam battlefield today.  I do this from time to time to connect with my area’s historical roots and, since the battle was the single bloodiest day in American history, remind myself things could be worse.

Today I decided to do my daily Bible reading in the small Dunker church building around which much of the fighting took place early in the day on September 17, 1862.  It was a little cool for mid-June and all one could hear was raindrops slapping the window panes.

When I finished reading, I took a few minutes to look out over the quiet battlefield from the open doorway.  How could something so horrible have happened in such a peaceful place?  Then a challenging thought came to me: I’m in a battle.  I’m in a battle every day as a follower of Christ.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

I’m reminded, too,  that we in the Church must focus on this battle.  I’m concerned when pastors or political activists quote this verse (as I’ve heard them do), acknowledge the spiritual nature of our struggle, then spend the rest of the time railing against people – the very flesh and blood we aren’t ultimately fighting against.

After verse twelve, Paul lists the weapons of the Christian: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God.  Then he asks for prayer.  Not prayer to have success combatting bad government policy, but that

utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19, 20)

Where is the virtue in winning a war we’re not even called to fight with weapons fashioned by the world’s political system?  When our involvement with our government looks suspiciously like the world’s approach, that’s exactly what we’re doing.