“We carry an insidious prosperity gospel around in our dark, little, entitled hearts.” ~Matt Chandler- The Explicit Gospel (Crossway, 2012)
The Lord has brought this quote often to mind recently. Perhaps it’s because I am still surprised and disappointed when things don’t come easy. I want to believe that the “good” that God is working in my life is all about having happy times on this earth, rather than sanctification for the life to come.
My heart is, indeed, dark and entitled.
I see this tendency in my children, as well. Truth be told, they learned many of their sinful ways from me.
It is tempting to raise my children in the type of fantasyland bubble that I crave for myself, in which their greatest trials involve choosing between vanilla or chocolate ice cream for dessert. I would shield them from a bedrock truth about this life: that we are at war.
Even if I am reviled for my faith or suffer on account of Christ, that is not what I imagined for my children. If I’m honest, I want to believe in a stripped down prosperity gospel, especially for them. They need not drive BMW convertibles through life, but a smooth road with no bumps, twists, or turns would be nice.
But the Scriptures make it clear that a worldwide spiritual conflict has been raging since the fall of man. As the Church of Christ, we are soldiers in this fight, and so are our Christian children.
This is not a thought we care to dwell on, especially as we look upon the sweet faces of our young ones. But we cannot make this battle go away by closing our eyes and pretending it isn’t there. Nor can our children “opt out” until they reach an age of maturity. Satan doesn’t play by those rules.
J. C. Ryle wrote about this spiritual war in his powerful book, Are You Fighting:
This warfare concerns not two or three nations only, but every Christian man and woman born into the world….It is the fight which everyone who would be saved must fight about his soul…In earthly warfare the consequences to nations are often temporary and remediable. In the spiritual warfare it is very different. Of that warfare, the consequences, when the fight is over, are unchangeable and eternal.
What is the kindest thing that a drill sergeant can do for his men before sending them into a dangerous war zone? He can train them. If he fails to do so, things will not go well for his men!
It is the same for our precious Christian children. They are engaged on three fronts with forces that we can’t even see.
Satan is cruel and he desires to have them. The world is always singing her siren song. And they must also do battle with the remains of their old sin nature, which still resides within their hearts.
The enemy is truly very near…
None of us wants to live in war time. We would rather be at peace! So we focus on the good things this life offers, and conveniently forget that even on our best days we are picnicking in a war zone.
Ryle goes on to say:
The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence, and security. He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and doze along the way to heaven, like one traveling in an easy carriage….If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his lines laid down very plainly in this matter. He must fight.
Our Christian children are soldiers in a real, live, dangerous war. We will not be able to shield them for long from the hardships, dangers and fighting. They are called to go to war by the Captain of hosts Himself, and they will each face battles that we cannot fight for them.
We know the enemy we face is “our enemy,” and we know the battle is “our fight”. However, do we know it is our children’s as well?
We dare not forget! The consequences are too dire.
We must hold firmly to the truth that we are soldiers in war time and, as such, we must fight. And we must be dedicated to training those in our care for the lifetime of constant war they will face and are even now experiencing.
The Lord has sovereignly placed many future warriors in our homes, entrusting them to us for a brief time of training. Let us not squander that time! Let us hold firmly to the truth that we are not just raising children; we are raising an army of soldiers for our King.
Should the Lord tarry, our Christian children will be the ones to man our battle stations when we are called home from the fight, just as we have fought in the stead of those faithful saints who have already exchanged their swords for crowns.
One day the Prince of Peace will return and put an end to all resistance to His reign. On that day, all war will cease, and at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Philippians 2:10). Until that day, may we–and our children–be found faithful in the fight.
*First published on Visionary Womanhood