The Battalion of Christ

March 3, 2019 Download: Audio

Matthew 16:18-19

This week we talk about the church as the battalion of Christ. That may seem like a strange term. It’s certainly not as familiar as the body of Christ or the bride of Christ or the concept of the building of Christ. Battalion implies military, something we don’t normally associate with positive Christianity. Perhaps it reminds you of the medieval crusades, in which knights rode, literally, to battle the infidels in the name of Christ. Today, the idea of promoting your faith is perceived as a bad thing. Religion, we’re taught by our culture, is personal and we shouldn’t try to impose our beliefs on someone else. According to Barna,

“Almost half of Millennials (47%) agree at least somewhat that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.”[1]

There are a variety of reasons as to why this. Culture is increasingly hostile to it. Post-modern thinking has embraced the idea of truth or faith as personal and private, etc. Suffice it to say, the idea of the church as a battalion may be hard to swallow.

However, the church is a battalion of Christ. It was established, not to be a fortress defending itself against the enemy (as it often drifts into being), but to be a battalion on the offense, going after the enemy. Think about Jesus words in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”In that image, the church is on the offense and hell is on the defense. The church is to storm the gates of our greatest enemy! What does this mean? It means the church is on a rescue mission. This shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, this was Jesus own mission. Reading from the scroll of Isaiah he says,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18–19 quoting Is 61:1-2a)

That sounds like a rescue mission to me. And disciples of Jesus are trained to follow in his footsteps. So, how does the church understand its rescue mission?

[1]Barna, 3/1/2019