November 2009 - Vol. 34
Band of Brothers, a ten part series made for TV, re-enacts the lives of a company of soldiers in the U.S. army who fought some of the toughest missions of World War II. It begins with their boot camp training in Georgia, and moves on to the dangerous parachute landings on D-Day in Normandy, and then across Holland, Belgium, Germany, and Austria, culminating with the capture of Hitler’s Eagle Nest mountain fortress. These men often went hungry, suffered bitter cold, and many died. Their courage and loyalty grew in the trenches as they sacrificed for one another. It wasn’t until later in the war, after they had rescued the survivors of a German concentration camp and saw first-hand the pain and destruction caused by Hitler, that they understood the reason for their efforts and toils in war: they were fighting to save the lives of innocent people.
Most of us aren’t engaged in a physical life and death struggle like the band of brothers who fought in World War II. But whether we realize it or not, we are caught up in a spiritual battle and a mission that has consequences not only for our own lives, but for others as well.
I grew up in community with my family, and I am now serving side by side in the Servants of the Word, a missionary band of brothers in the Sword of the Spirit. When I think about what we are doing with our lives, week by week, and day by day, what difference does it make? Why have we chosen to spend so much time and energy as a community of disciples, participating in weekly small group meetings, service teams, outreach projects, teaching conferences, summer camps, mission trips, retreats, celebration events, and so many other activities as well?
In 2008 I went to Chontales, Nicaragua to serve in the young adults program for the Risen Christ Community there. The journey from San José, Costa Rica, to Chontales took eight hours by bus, which left at 4:00 am. I was up late the night before serving my local community, the Tree of Life. So when my alarm clock went off at 3:00 a.m. and I opened my eyes, the first thing I thought was: “Why am I fighting? What am I striving for?”
We are living such an intense way of life that many times we don’t keep in mind why are we doing everything that we do. We forget why we joined Christian community. And perhaps why our leaders toiled for many years to build Christian community.
A few years ago I had a long conversation with Steve Clark, a founder of the Sword of the Spirit and the Servants of the Word. I remember clearly asking Steve some questions about the call to community and the role those who were born in community have to play in being part of the bulwark, a strategic description of our community of communities. At the end of the conversation he spoke a few words that deeply touched my heart. He said: “No one has entered this community because they think it’s a nice group with nice activities – we are all here because this is a matter of life or death. If we don’t carry out our mission, people will die; if we do what the Lord asks us to do, there will be life for many people.”
If we don’t carry
out our mission, people will die
We want to be ambassadors for Christ so that others may come to know him and his great love, and be united with him. This is what motivates us to live together in community and serve together in mission. We do not choose community simply because we enjoy meeting and socializing, serving and praying together. We have chosen this way of life in response to the Lord’s call to stand united together and to fight for the gospel in a time of spiritual conflict. We have chosen to live this way of life because there is much at stake: it is a matter of life or death.
One of my favorite hymns has the refrain: “in his truth, is our victory, our purpose and our way.” What is the truth of Christ? Christ has died and has been raised for our salvation. His death defeated Satan and won our pardon and healing so we could live as sons and daughters of God. We are called to be a bulwark – living stones – who stand on the truth of Christ and who witness to that truth so that others may come to know Jesus Christ and his love.
We believe that the Lord has called us in the Sword of the Spirit to be a nation at war, because we live in an age of spiritual warfare. Satan wants to divide. Our unity enables us to stand together as a bulwark against the tide of evil, so we can defend the gospel and be a source of protection for others who are weak and unprepared. The lives of many are at stake if we do not answer the call of God to do our part in the battle.
Why are we fighting?
Let us fight for Christ in all that we do. Let us fight for Christ on campus, let us fight for Christ in our jobs, let us fight in our homes, in our cities, among the poor, and in distant places – wherever the gospel is under attack. Let us never surrender because we fight for the King of the Universe.
Christ is our victory because he has won the battle. Thanks be given to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (I Corinthians 15:57)
[Miguel Vargas is an underway
member of the Tree
of Life Community in San Jose, Costa Rica. He has been actively involved
in youth ministry and is currently an affiliate of the Servants
of the Word living in Monterrey, Mexico. He majored in classical philology
and graduated from the University of Costa Rica in December 2008.]
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