Saturday, August 18, 2007

Korean Christians - and Warfare

In case you haven't heard (and if you're in the US - you probably haven't), the "negotiations" between the Taliban and South Korea have failed. A Taliban tribunal will now decide the "fate" of the Korean hostages. An additional Christian NGO worker from Germany was kidnapped from a restaurant while eating with her boyfriend.

Now is a time for intense prayer, but also a reminder of the sovereignty of God. Only He knows whether these are numbered among those who will be martyrs. We can pray, however, for their boldness, perseverance, and peace in the midst of this storm. And, based on Paul's request to the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 3:1-3), we can pray God would deliver them from evil and perverse men. But if that doesn't happen, please don't lose heart. Continue to pray for God to use even their deaths for His glory and kingdom purposes.

Surely it is no mere coincidence that I am writing a paper on persecution at the very time I'm praying for persecuted believers halfway around the world. But this applies to you too - even though you may be in a "safe" country. Because Scripture makes it clear that we are in a spiritual battle ... a spiritual battle with a predetermined outcome. We know the contours of the battle, but God fills in the colors according to His plan. We don't always know how we fit into that. We just know that He is in control...He is sovereign. Yes, we pray and give and work because He ordains that certain things happen because of our prayer and gifts and work. But there is always an element of sovereignty about this war that we are in.

Josef Tson said it better than anything I've read outside Scripture:

"For many years...I was groaning and saying ‘Lord, why?’...Now I have as the main pillar of my theology the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God means Satan at the end always finds out that he just promoted God's cause. All God’s enemies combine to destroy His work, and they always discover at the end that they just promoted it. That’s the sovereignty of God." (emphasis mine)

Commenting on this, Herbert Schlossberg writes in A Fragrance of Oppression: “That is why a Biblical philosophy of history has to recognize that God’s victories often come disguised as defeats: persecutions, death, destruction of churches and so on. A theology of disaster that is true to a Biblical worldview recognizes the victory lurking behind every external setback to faithful followers of Christ.”

Victory in death and setback? The unfathomable ways of our God.

You are on the frontlines of this spiritual battle. You may not be persecuted today, but you are a target. Keep a prayer circle around you - I'd love to be part of it - but know that anything God allows against you has a victorious purpose. I like to put it this way: Satan always attacks from a defensive posture. The gates of hell will not prevail against the offensive onslaught of the church in spiritual battle.

Even if it looks like we just lost.

No comments: