”The forest devoured more soldiers than the sword that day.”
In the end, it was the trees that got them.
After all the training, all of the equipping, all of the preparation and meetings and strategizing and deploying and organizing to fight the enemy, it was the forest that swallowed them up. As prepared as they were for traditional warfare, they were not ready to deal with the actual landscape around them.
It’s a picture of the modern church, really. For all of our organizing, training events, meetings, resources and strategies, we seem woefully unprepared to navigate the landscape around us. In many cases, we have been preparing people to fight battles that they never see, mostly because something else swallows them whole before they even get there.
Think about all of the time we spend tying to get people to come to Bible Studies, or worship services or (God save us) from teaching people apologetics or dogmatics, as though these things are quick answers to what really threatens their communion with God or neighbor.
The truth is, before people can read the Bible, or engage in liturgy, or even have a holy conference with someone else (at their best, this is what apologetics and dogmatics are), they need Holy Friends who can help them navigate the landscape of life.
Think about all of the time that we in the church spend fighting amongst ourselves over issues of theology, ecclesiology, missiology and sexuality. Meanwhile the majority of the people around us are being lost among the trees called Lonliness, Theodicy, Poverty of Spirit and Pocketbook, Disaplacement, Racism, Political Division.
Like David’s companies, the battles we have been engaging in and preparing for simply are not the biggest threats to life and communion.
In preaching this week, spend time naming and helping people navigate the trees in the forest that surround them, and helping them hear that God is even there, calling them to life.
+ What if we spent our time helping cultivate holy friendships instead of equipping people for holy wars (proving why “we” are right and “they” are wrong)?
+ What trees are in your neck of the woods that are dealing death to communion before people can engage in faith?