Introductory Note:

Today, we finish Richard Foster’s extended consideration of what it means to be in the Lamb’s Army with a look at some contemporary battlefields in the realm of “principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Read Part One here: The Peaceable War of the Lamb

Read Part Two here: Pulling Down Strongholds

Renovaré Team

Arenas of action

The contemporary battlefronts of the Lamb’s War are many and diverse. I mention only a few.

1. The Lamb’s people are to provide a genuine alternative to the prevailing power structures. We are to say no to the world’s games of promotion and authority. We are to reject all titles and degrees as designators of status. We do so because Jesus commanded us to do so (Matt. 23:8 – 10).

All human designations — Dr., Professor, Reverend, etc. — fail to guarantee the ability, and so let us obey Jesus Christ and place our hope in divine authorization alone.

We must, of course, go beyond mere verbal gymnastics. How easy it is to reject the language of the power structure and continue to jockey for position.

But we are called to another way. We are called to love one another without qualification. We are called to forgive freely. We are called to receive one another as brothers and sisters. 

Most importantly, our lives are to be characterized by a concern for the poor and the defenseless. We cannot live with God for long without being compelled to care for our neighbor. And, like the good Samaritan, we soon discover that our path leads us to the bleeding and the broken of humanity. As this happens, we become the voice for the voiceless, pleading for the disadvantaged and the dispossessed.

Like Amos, we are compelled to speak truth to those who oppress the poor, who crush the needy” (Amos 4:1). We, too, are to call for justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream (Amos 5:24).

2. The Lamb’s people are to provide a genuine alternative to the prevailing idolatry. It is time to say no to all the isms” of manipulation, oppression, and prejudice — nationalism, racism, sexism and more. At the core of all these arrogant and demon- inspired dogmas is the belief that we are better than others simply because of who we are.

Nationalism says we are better than others because of our cultural roots. Racism says we are better than others because of our ethnic stock. Sexism says we are better than others because of our gender.

Who is willing to accept as an equal in the righteousness of God anyone who only does justice, loves mercy and walks humbly with God” (Micah 6:8)? You see, people are always better if they are like us in ways other than these.

But among the Lamb’s people there is to be none of this. There cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11. See also Gal. 3:28). God accepts them all, the Greek as freely as the Jew, says Paul, and, of course, these were shocking words to first-century Jews. Those Greeks, those uncircumcised Greeks — God accepts even them.

But Paul goes further and says that God also receives the barbarian. Who were the barbarians? The barbarians were the uncultured, uncouth Romans. Now, it is one thing to accept the Greeks who at least had good manners, but the Romans were uncivilized barbarians! Does God embrace the outlandish, unpolished, untutored barbarian? Yes, he does, and Paul goes even further. Not only does God welcome the Greeks and the barbarians but also the Scythians. Who were the Scythians? The Scythians were those wild people from the north. Those ferocious, lawless, savages that the first-century Jew could only wonder about and from whom many of us are descended. Yes, God accepts even the Scythians.

And we, too, are to receive all people in the grace of God, without qualification, without reservation, without pre-judgment. We are to love enemies as freely as friends. We are to pray for those who hurt and abuse us. We are to break the law of commerce which says, You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back.” We are to break the law of retaliation which says, You gore my ox and I’ll gore your ox.” We are to live in a new power that enables us to return love for hatred and in all ways to overcome evil with good.

3. The Lamb’s people are to provide a genuine alternative to the prevailing lifestyle. Modern culture is sick. To be well adjusted in a sick society is to be sick. A new lifestyle is needed.

Modern people are plagued by the passion to possess. The lust for affluence in contemporary society has become psychotic: it has completely lost touch with reality. Furthermore, our frantic pace only accentuates our sense of being fractured and fragmented. Climb, push, and shove is the language of today. 

And we are strained, hurried, breathless. The Lamb of God calls us away from our compulsive extravagance and speaks peace to our frantic spirit. We are to live simply and fully, freed from what William Penn called cumber.” We are to value people more than possessions. We are to seek simpler, more human ways of living.

We are to turn away from the narcissism of the age. People are running amuck today because of this compulsive, excessive self-love. Abortions are rampant because of our lust and selfishness. Divorce is rampant be cause of our lust for good feelings.

But Jesus has taught us another way — the way of the cross, the way of the footwashing towel. Esteeming others, encouraging others, serving others is a goal worthy of our highest efforts. We are to experience the many little deaths of going beyond ourselves. And we find this dying to ourselves to be life-giving — a kind of losing of ourselves in order to find ourselves.

4. The Lamb’s people are to provide a genuine alternative to the prevailing morality. We are to know and experience the power of God to free us from pride and greed and sexual promiscuity. We are to wait together in the power of God until the good rises up and the evil recedes. We are to be a community where grace and mercy are extended, where our deepest fears and most gnawing temptations can be revealed, where confession and forgiveness and healing prayer can flow freely.

Knowing Christ as our life, we are to pray down our lust for glory, defeat our hankering for status, stamp out our drive for prominence. We are to seek God’s rule over our sexual lives so that deep within we long to shun all immorality, all infidelity, all promiscuity.

We seek a simplicity of speech in which our yes means yes and our no means no, where truthfulness and honesty are the distinguishing characteristics of our words. When we live in this way people will know that we truly have come into the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Jesus, our commander and our chief, calls us into a spiritual warfare that will profoundly impact the social order on every conceivable level. May we be faithful to his call.

Originally published as part of The Lamb’s Army” in Equipping the Saints (Spring, 1989).

Text First Published March 1989