July 5, 2002 • By Ed Wrather
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. - 1 Corinthians 16:13.
Yesterday was the first Fourth of July celebration in the United States since the September 11th attacks. With the celebration came increased security with those watching the events being watched by those determined to prevent further terrorism. In Washington D.C., our nation’s capitol, the eyes of security cameras and police were focused on the National Mall. The National Mall was only accessible through a couple of dozen security checkpoints because it had been surrounded with security fencing. In Los Angeles even with the increased watchfulness a man attacked workers at Israel’s El Al ticket counter shooting and killing two people before he was shot and killed. However, without the increased vigilance and alertness many more people could have been killed or injured.
The increased vigilance against terrorist attack in the USA is picture of how the Christian life is to be lived. In the USA we are encouraged to be alert, vigilant, and watchful because we are warned further attacks are inevitable. At the same time we are encouraged to continue on with life as normally as possible. President Bush encouraged the nation to celebrate freedom but at the same time warned that we are fighting people who want to attack us because they hate freedom.
As Christians we too are in a war fighting an enemy who hates our spiritual freedom and would like nothing better than to destroy us. But at the same time that we are aware of the danger of the enemy (1 Peter 5:8) we must not withdraw from all contact with the world because we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-14). So, we are encouraged to “be brave, be strong,” “stand fast….” Not only are we to “stand fast” against our enemy but we are also to “resist him (1 Peter 5:8).” Even when our “stand” results in “sufferings” we are to “resist him.”
As we are “vigilant” we are to be “serious and watchful in our (your) prayers (1 Peter 4:7)” and we are to have “fervent love for one another” and “be hospitable to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:8).” Jesus explains to the disciples why they should watch and pray: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).”
We do indeed have an enemy who is vicious and evil and we must be continually watchful of our spiritual condition. Often when we are under stress and are pressed for time we tend to neglect the spiritual disciplines but those are the times when we should pray more, have a greater intake of the Word, and continue to serve and assemble with other believers. Hard to do sometimes but we are called upon to be brave, strong, stand fast against and resist the enemy.
Let us be vigilant in our watching lest we fall into temptation and our enemy devours us!