A couple of years ago best-selling author, Philip Yancey, remarked that when it comes to matters of church and culture, many Christians fall within two rather disparate categories: Those who favor fortification and those who prefer domination.
It occurred to me that these two camps are captured quite nicely in two hymns, each of which—interestingly enough—is based upon experiences of the United States’ Civil War.
The first reads:
See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on;
Mighty ones around us falling, courage almost gone!
“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to Heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”1
The other declares:
I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel,
"As ye deal with My contemners so with you My grace shall deal,"
Let the Hero born of woman crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on
Glory! Glory ! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah
Glory! Glory ! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on2
Can you hear fortifiers anxiously singing their tune and dominators bellowing theirs?
To be sure, there are sincere Bible-believers in both camps. But whereas the fortifier tends to withdraw from non-believers, the dominator seeks to vanquish them. The one eschews contamination and the other embraces coercion.
In other words, the fortifier has only Christian friends and the dominator has only non-Christian enemies.
But there’s a third Way.
Jesus says, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
That is to say, the Christ-follower needn’t fear or force other people. Rather, he or she is called to walk with God, empowered by love. No cloistering. No clobbering.
Do you want to be more like Jesus?
Well…He’s the sinner’s best friend. That’s good news for folks like us! So let’s broadcast it in word and deed—as best we can—every day.
1“Hold The Fort,” by Philip P. Bliss
2“The Battle Hymn of The Republic,” by Julia Ward Howe