A Mysterious Army

Our generation has probably had more than its share of revolution. It doesn’t really matter whether you study the “professionals,” a la Lenin, Mao and Castro, or the special interest terrorist groups, be they German, Japanese, Italian or Palestinian—the results are identical. Revolution begins with a barrage of inflamed rhetoric and ends with bloodshed and tyranny. When the dust has finally settled, one tyranny has replaced another in the name of progress.

Karl Marx said that “Philosophers have only interpreted the world differently; the point is, however, to change it.” The fact remains that neither Marx nor his successors approached the problem of changing the world with enough force. Their weapons of destruction, both ideological and military, were (and still are) far too feeble. All the apparatuses of war in any nation’s arsenal are just as capable of being destroyed as they are of destroying. Furthermore, as history has proven, one ruler’s ideology is vulnerable to being replaced by the next. In order to change this world, it’s going to take a force that is not of this world.

Such a force exists. God is raising up a mysterious army unlike any of which the Pentagon or the Kremlin have ever dreamed. It is unique, powerful, growing, but it is not new. It cannot be stopped by any weapon or barrier known to man. It is relentless and determined. There are no conscripts in this army, it is entirely volunteer. It is an army made up of the dead…who are all very much alive.

I shall not give the impression that the princes of this world are afraid or unable to make war against this army, but it can’t be destroyed. Trifling with this heavenly army becomes a study in frustration. The enemy dispatches one soldier and ten more spring up in his place. As I mentioned to a Soviet lieutenant in 1973, the repressive regimes of the world would be wise to take notes from history, for whenever the Church has been persecuted, that is precisely when it has flourished. The blood of martyrs has always been the seed of the Church. It has been estimated that for every Christian that perished in the Roman coliseum there were twelve to sixteen new converts in the stands. It’s like trying to put out a fire by dousing it with gasoline. The most effective action against this army is no action.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me… Galatians 2:20

As one surveys the life of our Lord Jesus, the magnitude of His accomplishments cannot help but diminish all tendency toward self-congratulatory conversation. Jesus accomplished infinitely more in just thirty-three years than most of us could hope to conclude in a full lifetime. As J. Oswald Sanders observed, “He spent His time doing things that mattered.” [1]J. Osward Sanders, Spiritual Leadership (Lakeland), p. 89.

In Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, there are recorded for us some of the most thrilling words in the entire Bible.

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. John 17:4

These words are an example to us. I wonder how many of us, were we to be ushered before the throne of God today, could make such a statement? Let us order our lives in such a way that we might one day experience the deep, eternal satisfaction of repeating these words of Jesus before our Father.

We end by posing C. S. Lewis’ question, from his book Mere Christianity:

“One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next-door neighbors, or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to remember it?) when the anesthetic fog which we call ‘nature’ or ‘the real world’ fades away, and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?”

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. J. Osward Sanders, Spiritual Leadership (Lakeland), p. 89.