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Death To: 'A Hill To Die On'

Apr 17, 2023

Few phrases are more frustrating to me than ‘a hill to die on’.

It’s not really because of my military service, although there’s an element that surfaces there for sure.

It’s not that I think fighting about something that you value is wrong. I’m all for that.

It’s the posture that’s all wrong. 

We live in a time when men have been functionally castrated, the church has become soft, and we approach our faith more like one of many badges on our Boy Scout vest, during this time that’s becoming more hostile to Christians.

Christians today are worried. Worried about ruffling the wrong feathers, offending, and alienating people. They’re worried about backlash and reputation damage in the culture.

Being offended is the central theme in society and is the water we swim in. The aim for most is to avoid offense at all costs - even if it means letting people stampede society with their infiltrating sinful ideologies.

To think that we can swim in that water and not be in danger of being changed by it if we’re not absolutely careful, is a total miss. The Church has absolutely succumbed to the ideologies of culture, and it has been done so deceitfully and cunning that we’re largely unaware.

Isn’t that baked into the criteria for being deceived, though? To be unaware of the fact that you’re deceived is a prerequisite for the state of being deceived. If you think to yourself “I’m not deceived”, by definition you very well could be. It requires a humble heart to cry out to the Lord regularly and ask him to show you your blind spots. That’s the way into truth.

And that’s the danger of comfort, complacency, and resulting passivity.

It often causes us as believers to enter into the cycle of sin and deliverance seen all through scripture by God’s people. It goes like this:

  1. Sin - We’re tempted into a sin

  2. Slavery - That sin grows and we become enslaved to it

  3. Supplication - We cry out to the Lord to save us from ourselves

  4. Salvation - He shows up and delivers us

  5. Silence - There’s a period of peace, silence, and stillness that breeds complacency

  6. Forgetfulness - We forget the danger of our ways and become tempted again - leading back into sin.

We’ve seen this cycle over and over and over again. We’re in this cycle right now. Our complacency has led to cultural sin, which has led to slavery. Some of the Church is waking up to this and crying out in supplication for deliverance, but much of the Church is sound asleep.

You might be saying “Alright, enough with that - what does this have to do with dying on a hill, Chris?”

Great question.

One of the primary symptoms that I have noticed as the Church moves in the direction of alignment with culture is that we begin to take the posture of defense and triage, rather than offense.

This is a massive problem considering what Jesus told us as to how the Church would operate. Let’s take a peek a Matthew 16:13-19 NASB:

“Now when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you yourselves say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

We have two very important truths outlined in this passage when it’s properly interpreted:

  1. Peter’s confession of faith. His recognition of the Messiah was not something his logic and reason drummed up through tasteful discourse with Jesus as Jesus laid out the facts to him. According to Jesus, it was given to him directly from God the Father himself, and it’s upon this confession of faith (not built on Peter himself - that interpretation is absurd IMHO, especially in light of Paul doing most of the building of the Church) that Jesus will build his church.

  2. The result of this is that the gates of hell will not prevail. Gates are never on the go. Gates are stationary, intended to prevent coming and going from a particular place. They’re defensive. The Church, according to the statement of Christ himself should always be on the offense, and the evil defenses will never prevail at retaining anything given to the Lord when offense is the posture of the Church.

So what does this mean for us?

Stop dying on hills.

We must take the hill instead. 

Based on truth #1, offending people with the truth shouldn’t be our worry as the Father is the only one who can reveal to them the truth, and the truth will always be offensive to those whom it hasn’t been revealed to yet.

Let’s look at two passages:

1 Peter 2:7-8 “This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for unbelievers, “A stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief cornerstone”, 8 and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this they were also appointed.”

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

These are only two passages of several in the NT that outline the reality that the truth of God in Christ will be a stumbling block for many, appears as foolishness to those to who it hasn’t been revealed to, and will be offensive.

Based on truth #2, we see that our posture shouldn’t be defensive. It shouldn’t be to pick and choose what to defend. Men today are often compromising and saying “Well they can have that, that’s not as big of a deal to me. But if they try to take this, that’s where I draw the line”.

There couldn’t be a worse posture for masculinity. That’s not our role as men. That’s not what God gave us to do.

From day 1 of humanity in the first pages of scripture, we were given the ground-breaking, ground-taking work of spreading the culture and order of God so that the world can properly experience and reflect the glory of God. Genesis 1:28 makes clear that we are to be fruitful, multiply, fill, subdue, and rule.

The whole narrative of scripture is a story unfolding how God himself is restoring through Christ, all that was broken in the garden, and bringing a new garden city in the end. A new heaven and a new earth. And we are invited to play an active role.

Jesus is outlining this reality for the disciples. What was once broken through the fall - man’s ability to spread God’s glory across the globe - will be restored by Christ, via the Church. The Church will prevail in building a new culture and bringing a different kind of order out of the chaos.

Let’s grab fresh eyes for a moment. Pretend you’ve never seen this passage before. Some of the Lord’s closing words to his disciples just prior to the ascension are as follows:

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus’a command and commission here is that Christians would go into every nation and teach them to obey. Not only that, but He said to teach them to obey everything.

He said to baptize them - which means to immerse them - in the nature of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit as you teach them to obey the commands of Jesus.

The reality of the Trinity should become clear and evident in every corner of a nation that has been properly discipled, immersed, and taught.

Let’s be clear, this is not a call for some kind of repeat of the crusades, for physical violence, nor is it a call to even aggressive speech and anger.

We don’t need to behave that way. God is in control. He’s revealing the truth to people as he sees fit, and we can rest in his authority.

It is, however, a call to the offense. A call for men to stop being passive. To speak up and speak out when you’re being asked to compromise any part of God’s word and his expectations for how his people are to live.

Stop picking and choosing the hills to die on while sitting on defense.

Be the Church Jesus said we would be. Go on the offense. Take the hill.