I often wonder if the reason Christianity grows in areas of the world where there is greater persecution is because the daily reality for those Christians is one where they know that following Jesus involves living very much on the front line.
There is a cost evidenced every day, whether in threats from the government, imprisonment, physical injury or in some cases even death. To be a believer in such places leaves no room for half heartedness. You’re all in or not at all and you are daily aware that you're on the front line against an enemy who wants to destroy you.
Living in Huddersfield as a Christian we don’t suffer in the same ways as our brothers and sisters do across the world. However, we are still on the front line and we are called to the same radical following of Jesus.
This coming season we will be thinking a lot about what front lines we are on. Whether in the office, in our homes, the streets we live on, the schools our children go to or the sports teams we are a part of.
In all these places the same command is true for them all: Jesus said go and make disciples.
We may not see these places as front lines but in reality they are and our Saviour King wants us to bring liberation to every one of them: To bring the hope, freedom and forgiveness we have found in Jesus Christ; To literally see whole communities transformed for His Glory and for the joy of those who are a part of them.
I recently watched a mini series called Band of Brothers for what probably is now the 50th time. There’s a moment when the men of easy company drop into Holland from the air to liberate a town. There is great celebration and partying scenes of laughter and joy for the town is no longer under enemy occupation – it’s free!
As they leave the town to go on to their next mission 2nd Lt. George Rice shouts to the main character, Richard Winters, “Looks like you guys are going to be surrounded.”He replies “We’re paratroopers, Lieutenant. We’re supposed to be surrounded”.
The soldiers in easy company specialised in parachuting into areas where they were totally surrounded, often heavily outnumbered, yet they would prevail in seeing towns and cities liberated and the people who lived there set free.
I see the same calling over us as followers of Christ. Go into the places where it might not be particularly easy at first but where Jesus truly wants to see lives transformed and people come to know Him as their Lord and Saviour. He’s given us the honour of being His hands and feet in this world.
So let’s pray that this coming season, as we seek to see Huddersfield transformed for Jesus, we will not fear feeling surrounded, being outnumbered or that we are on the front line, but know that our Commander is Christ Himself – Our weapon His word, our power the indwelling Holy Spirit – and in being in union with Christ we are fully equipped for every task He asks us to do.