Nicky Gumbel recently told the story of Philip II of Macedon, who became king of his homeland after being held hostage in Greece as a young man. Leading during desperate times, he utilized his military prowess to build a strong army. He is remembered for the development of two innovations that led to the success of his army in defeating the city of Philippi in 356BC. The first was the development of a long spear, called the sarissa. The second is a rectangular shaped military formation known as a phalanx, which consisted of men positioned shoulder to shoulder, single file, in rows eight men deep. This core of well-trained infantry, each armed with a sarissa, created a united force that struck fear in the heart of its enemies.
For many, this year has been a tremendous struggle. The emotional, psychological, physical, economic and spiritual toll of the past several months may not be fully understood for years to come. People are tired, worn down, depressed, anxious, and emotionally and spiritually exhausted. Christians have not been able to join together as a congregation, singing our praises to God in far too long. Even the strongest among us, have had days when our hope has faltered and our faith has waned.
It is during times like this, that we must remember to stand firm. It is for times like this, that we must put into practice the behaviors and disciplines that give us strength. Sadly, many will fall victim to the oppressors that are facing us. Fortunately, none of us walk alone. Our strength…your strength is found in your faith in a resurrected Christ, but also in the collective faith of a community that (even though we are physically separated) stand together for the kingdom of God and God’s people.
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reminds us that we are chosen to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He goes on to say,
“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
You are chosen. You are called. You are not alone. We are in the midst of a year that continues to surprise, but now is not the time to go soft. Now is the time to stand firm. Stand firm in your faith. Stand firm with your church. Stand firm with your family. Hold the scriptures near to you. Keep the songs of our faith in your heart. May the prayers of your heart never cease flowing from your lips.
On October 25th, we will gather for a full morning of worship and fellowship. Whether you join us in person or online, I pray that it will be a reminder that together, in Christ, we are strong.