In America, we often recognize our military service members, those warriors willing to serve our country and give their lives if necessary for our freedoms.
As Christians, we, like those who serve on the front lines, are also called to be warriors at times. Our approach is not to be warlike, since we are told to put on the shoes of the gospel of peace as part of the "full armor of God" described in the Ephesians 6.
But why "armor" in the first place? Why the analogy of a helmet of salvation, a breastplate of righteousness, a shield of faith, a sword of the Spirit and a belt of truth? It says, "Take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Apparently, being willing to take a stand against temptation, against spiritual and material enemies, is something believers must be ready for.
But as we put on the shoes of the gospel of peace, it's a reality that some will react with hostility, even if we do nothing to provoke this. Paul wrote in Romans 12,"If it is possible, so much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." So does this mean we withdraw and refrain from teaching the gospel, or explaining the truth of God, if it is found offensive by some? Absolutely not, as we know both from Christ's teachings, His actions (like going willingly to be crucified) and from what Paul did himself. He was thrown in jail, even stoned, for his bold preaching.
In other places in Scripture, it's clear God does not want passive believers. Again, not waging war, but we are to be willing, as the book of Jude tells us, to "contend earnestly for the faith."
Consider the messages Jesus gave in the book of Revelation to the seven churches. Several were commended for exposing elements of false faith and liars among those who claimed to be apostles. The church at Pergamos was rebuked for not doing enough along these lines. The church at Thyatira was rebuked by Jesus and even threatened with severe judgment for allowing flagrant sexual immorality to continue in the congregation.
And the church at Sardis, Christ called "dead," and to the church at Laodicea, Christ had a stern rebuke for being "lukewarm." Christ urges all these churches to be "overcomers," and promises precious blessings to those who do so. "Overcomer" is an interesting word, revealing of course that believers will have something to overcome.
The church is the body of all believers, not just buildings or congregations, so if you are a believer, you are a member of the church, the body of Christ, and so am I. As we look around at America, it's pretty obvious that the church has mostly dropped the ball and that believers frequently avoid anything that resembles "contending for the faith."
One of the biggest challenges of our age is self-indulgence, the sins of the flesh. How can we be warriors about this? Of course, living in a personally responsible way is the best place to start. But we also must be ready to explain our faith and the reason for the hope we have, as Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15.
In today's world, that means knowing Scripture well enough and being willing to share the truth about sexual immorality, about why homosexuality is a sin, about Christ-ordained man/woman marriage, and about many other things, even about financial gluttony, because these may all be related.
Friends, let's pledge to be warriors every day for our Lord and Savior.