Tuesday, August 16, 2005


In Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, he describes one of his aha moments vis-à-vis a lecture he attended about the power of metaphor. The example the professor starts out with is cancer. When we think about cancer, we think about war metaphors like battling cancer or fighting cancer. Apparently this has an unhealthy affect on cancer patients who can feel more burdened and frightened than they should because they feel "that they have been thrust into a deadly war… because of the war metaphor, the professor said, we are more likely to fear cancer when, actually most people survive the disease."

I think the war metaphor is also overused in the context of Christianity. Last week we heard about from Ephesians 6:16-17 to "take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." How about the lyrics "Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war", or the Christian Coalition tagline "defending our godly heritage". And don’t even get me started on the anti/pro language thrashing around out there. Sometimes the war metaphor is hidden under the guise of saving souls for the kingdom.

My problem with the war metaphor is two-fold. First, I find it frightening and not at all appealing. I think it can cause people to feel more burdened and frightened than they should feel about Christianity. But what I want to focus on here is that it implies winners and losers. You know you are a Christian – way to go, you are on the winning team. Not sure, so sorry – you lose. Oh and did I mention, you are now the enemy.

This week the transformation journal theme is Jesus and Perseverance. So, it’s not about winning a war, it’s about staying the course, doing your best, moving forward. It’s not about defense or offense, it’s about humility, leading by example, learning. And while there is a prize to strive for, it is not at the expense of someone else nor is it exclusive - it's available to everyone.
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained."
- Philippians 3:10-16

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