There is a stirring line in Band of Brothers.
The TV series tells the story of ‘Easy Company’ led by Dick Winters, part of the 101st US Airborne Division in the months following D-Day.
The German counter-attack came unexpectedly in December 1944 through the Ardennes and the 101st were given the task of holding the area around the strategic town of Bastogne. Short of warm clothing, equipment and ammunition, the soldiers of Easy Company arrive to find fellow Americans in retreat. At this point, Captain Winters is informed that the German panzers are about to cut the road to the South. ‘It looks like you guys are going to be surrounded’, explains Second Lieutenant George Rice. Then comes Winters’ heroic reply: ‘We’re paratroopers, Lieutenant. We’re supposed to be surrounded’.
It’s like that with us as Christians. As contemporary Britain becomes increasingly worldly, godless and concerned with nothing other than self, the God-centred outlook of biblical Christianity will be increasingly out of step and under attack from a generation of people who simply do not understand us. But that situation should not surprise us. We belong to a different Master. We are outposts of another kingdom. We might say we are paratroopers from God’s future sent on a rescue mission into a lost world which is passing away. Surrounded by antagonists? That’s what we signed up for. Jesus told us that we had to take up the cross if we wanted to follow him (Mark 8.34). The challenge to us all in coming years will be to hold our nerve.
I was reflecting on some words of the late Professor John Murray about what comprises a Christian world order. He wrote: ‘There are three basic divine institutions in human society — the family, the church and the state’.* Murray explains that all of these are given by God for the benefit of society and of individuals within society. All three are needed to keep things in balance.
But in a godless world the tendency is for the state to seek to take over and do away with church and family. We have seen this in the horrific totalitarian regimes of Communism during the 20th century. But now we are witnessing this same tendency in a different, 21st-century form. The politically correct liberals have done everything in their power to destroy the traditional family: from the promotion of lone parenthood and the marginalisation of fathers through to the latest move to redefine marriage itself. Meanwhile the media (in love with atheism) and the fifth-column religious liberals, along with the cover-ups of sexual scandals within Catholicism, have made the church into an irrelevant or even harmful nonsense in the eyes of the general population. All this leaves the field clear for state control. We are to be ruled by the changing ideas of fallen men and women alone. It’s a scary prospect.
How will we hold our nerve? Concluding the episode of Band of Brothers where they arrive at Bastogne, there is a quote from the 101st’s ‘Currahee’ scrapbook: ‘Farthest from your mind is the thought of falling back… and so you dig your hole carefully and deep, and wait’. Somewhat surrounded, the church must not turn in on itself but keep a loving, open face to the world. However, we will need to dig in and that means digging deep into Scripture. Many ordinary church members need a far firmer grasp of why we believe what we believe if they are to stand. It also means churches being devoted to one another in brotherly love.
* The Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 1, Banner of Truth, page 359
This article was first published in the April 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
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