As I was getting ready for this Sunday I was studying Philippians 2. A key phrase in verse 25 made me think of this…….
Do you remember the scene from Braveheart (can you believe it came out 13 years ago) where Longshanks (King Edward of England) commands his archers to shoot into a battle where his own men are fighting. One of his commanders questions the order and asks won’t that kill our own men. Longshanks replies – yes, but it will kill theirs too – besides we have reserves.
Keep that scene in mind as you read what Paul said in Phil. 2:25-30: 25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.
Paul called Ephaphroditus his “fellow soldier”; one who was risking his life for the cause of Christ! They were in a war with a common enemy – and the enemy wasn’t “their own men”.
One of the sad commentaries of our day is that the greatest critics of the church and/or other Christians often come from withing the ranks of those who are supposed to be “our own men.” Far too often the religious shoot more arrows at their own men than do those who are unchurched.
When I was growing up I attended VBS on several occasions. It was fun and I remember singing a Hymn that we’d march to; it was Onward Christian Soldiers. The first phrases of the song are: “Onward Christian Soliders – Marching As To War – With The Cross of Jesus – Going On Before”.
We’re to march to war together – against our common enemy – not against each other. And when we shoot arrows at other churches and believers, we’re not carrying the cross of Jesus into battle, we’re dragging it in the dirt.
Yes, there are times we are to confront privately and publicly. We also need to speak up when someone is leading people away from the truth of the Gospel, but the next time you’re tempted to flippantly say something critical of another church or Christian —- make a better choice —- don’t talk about them, talk to God for them and ask His blessing on them. Their battle tactics may not be identical to yours, but as fellow soldiers it’s not wise to shoot arrows at them. Think about it!