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

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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