What's Your Target?
In the current controversy over the shooting of a man at Miami International Airport, it might be good to review the rules for handling firearms and shooting... and then make the obligatory spiritual application.
1. Consider all firearms to be loaded all the time.
2. Never point your firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
4. Acquire and identify your target.
5. Know what is around and behind your target.
I was actually thinking of these rules this week and working on something when breaking news hit about the sky marshal(s) shooting a man who claimed he had a bomb. My thinking wasn't about shooting something or someone. I was wondering about my target. Had I acquired the right target? Without going into mind-numbing detail on some of my shooting exercises in the past, let me merely say that I, during a practice house clearing exercise at a competition, once turned around and declared a room clear only to have the instructor point out the cardboard bad guy pointing a gun at me from the window. Had it been real, it could have ruined my whole day!
Raised in a hyper-conservative church, my early targets were liberal churches of Christ. I blasted, debated, and chewed my way through hundreds of sermons and letters about them. In my late 20's I went through a five to eight year change of heart and mind about matters religious. C.S. Lewis helped me a great deal with Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, both of which I read during a particularly painful time of my life.
So I changed my target. I have spent a lot of the last ten years or so preaching freedom in Christ and challenging those who have distilled the gospel into yet another legal system with a church sign out front. Most of my work has been to prove that people were free in Christ and free from tradition.
But I think I need to pick a new target. When I look out at my congregation on Sunday, none of our three services has a majority of people who came from any branch of the restoration movement. In one service the number is probably less than 30%. They don't need me preaching sermons that attack the legalists or traditionalists among us. They don't know those people and have no idea what I'm talking about. They need me to preach about how to live as Christ in a postmodern, and moderately post-Christian, world.
I have spent most of efforts, most of my life, in struggles with my brethren on the left and then on the right when they are not my enemy. My enemy is this aggressively secularist society and its hatred for the absolutes of faith. My enemy is a culture that doesn't mind if you go to church as long as it doesn't affect anything you say or do at school, in business, or about their entertainments.
It's time we began targeting the real threat to Christ's people, and it isn't the church. It's time we redirected our fire outside the foxhole, toward the enemy. The real enemy.
For we have met the enemy. And, this time, it isn't us.