Picture this: I’m getting up to preach, and I’ve brought my Glock 9. Right up into the church where everyone can see. And then I’ll explain: I’ve got a deadly weapon here. But look! I checked that the magazine is empty. I checked: there’s no cartridge in the chamber. The safety is on, and there’s a trigger lock. And on top of all that, I’m only pointing it at the ground. Why am I being so careful? Any one of these precautions by itself is enough to make the gun safe… why on God’s green earth should I need to use them all? Because there is nobody here that I want to kill. Because when it’s a deadly weapon, a tiny mistake can have life-shattering consequences.
Now I want to talk about something far more powerful, far more deadly, far more destructive, and yet the precautions that people take with it are terrifyingly few; the casual, careless way that people wield it is terrifyingly common.
The bible often describes itself as a weapon:
- “Before I was born the Lord called me; He made my mouth like a sharpened sword.” Isaiah 49:1-2
- “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” Hebrews 4:12
- “Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17
…Something far more powerful, far more deadly, far more destructive, and yet the precautions that people take with it in the name of religious freedom are terrifyingly few
In so doing, we may find we have even turned the gun on ourselves. Not for nothing does scripture call itself a two-edged sword. The Pharisees’ command of scripture has never been surpassed, before or since, and the result, Christ said: “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter.” (Matthew 23:13) The mishandling of that fearsome power destroyed themselves and others.
Whom, then, are we to attack? On whom are we to unleash the weapon of scripture, if not the miserable unrepentant sinner? Scripture couldn’t be clearer: it’s a hostage situation. The “sinners” flocked to Christ and the demons were panic-stricken: he was there to rescue the one from the other. The only battle God intends is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). By your love and joy and peace and all the rest of it– what Christ calls hearing his words and putting them into practice– if you can spring one of their victims, there’s a gigantic party in heaven every time. Any battle you pick with flesh and blood, you are only shooting the hostages.