Is Your Church At Ease or Militant?

Text: Luke 8:4-15

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

I have been quite bothered over the last 20 years, seeing how the church has been portrayed to the world and its members. I do not know all the exact reasons why, but the church is often portrayed as a church of ease. You know: become a Christian and go to church, and you will have all sorts of peace and comfort. Through the church, you will have great health, wealth, and success!  

Dear friends, hear me loud and clear, Christ’s church is not a church at ease but the church militant.  

Now, when you hear the word militant, it might be easy to think of a church influenced by the Medieval Crusades. It might be easy to think that the church militant is a church that is on the front lines – battling injustices with a sword in its hand. But this is not the church militant. You see, what makes the church militant is not the conflict that it engages in but the conflict that the world, the Devil, and the sinful nature bring to the it.  

But you and I may not like how this sounds: become a member at St. Paul’s, come to the divine services, and experience attacks from the Devil, war with the world, and conflict with your sinful nature! Ta-dah! Welcome to the church militant!  

Now, we obviously do not like the sound of the church militant.  From what we know about human nature and history is that people are, more often than not, attracted to a church at ease. In fact, many pastors do everything possible to make sure that their churches are not militant but places of ease. Tragically, though, the only way to avoid conflict and war, as the church militant, is to forsake the seed. Yes, forsaking the Word of God makes a church into a church at ease.  

In our reading from the Gospel of Luke this morning, Jesus tells us a parable where seeds are cast into several different circumstances. Now, obviously, the seed represents the Word of God, and the soil represents people like you and me. But here is the catch: conflict awaits the seed in three of the circumstances.  

You see, first, we hear that the Devil hates the seed – the Word. He hates it so much that he swoops in, like a bird, to snatch up the Word of God. And so, dear friends, know this, the Devil does not want the seed of the Word to take root in your ears, hearts, and minds. This means that wherever a church is found casting the Word of God, the Devil will be present to try and keep the Word from your ears.  

But a church at ease? Well, the Devil does not care about these churches. Why would the Devil have to worry about a church where the Word is not preached? A church without the Word is doing a fine job already of going to hell on its own, without the Devil’s help.  

But the church militant?  Friends, do not be surprised to find the Devil active and busy in the church militant where the Word is preached. In fact, we should expect that when the Word is preached, the Devil will be active to oppose it, for this is how it is with the church militant.  

Now, if it is not the Devil, the world is also there to eradicate the Word. Yes, where the seed is cast out, the worries and pleasures of the world will be ready to wither the seed. You see, being a Christian means that you will have persecution from the world because of the Word of God. Again, just like the Devil, the world does not like the Word of God. Dear friends, when the Word of God is proclaimed, well… you should learn to expect persecution from the world. And so, this whole idea of being popular with the world and being a Christian at the same time is just not true. Being a Christian is not like sitting at the popular lunch table in High School, but it is like sitting at the table where spit wads land and jeering is directed.  

This is why the church at ease, has no spine or conviction regarding the Word of God when confronted by the world. The church at ease is more concerned with finding favor in the world than getting persecuted by the world. Given a choice between the Word of God and persecution, the choice is easy for the church at ease. They choose favor in the eyes of the world.  

And finally, we must not forget our sinful nature, or as we say here at St. Paul’s - the old Adam. Like the Devil and the world, our old Adam hates the seed as well. You see, our old Adam is only concerned about how high we can climb, how rich we can become, and how many pleasures we can maximize in this life. And so, it makes sense when we humans choose churches that do not preach the Word. In fact, we should come to expect that our old Adam will never like coming to a church where the Word is accurately and faithful preached and applied.  And so, you and I should should expect that our old Adam wants to attend a church at ease.  Our old Adam would love nothing more than to go to a church that promotes and feeds its sinful appetite.  

Dear friends, mark this; it would be easy, yes so very easy, to quickly fill the pews of this church to the max. All we would have to do is befriend the ideologies of the world, uphold the appetite of the old Adam, and disregard the Word of God. And then, with a bit of charisma, several catchy tunes, and superficial promises of riches and comfort, we could fill these pews – pews that would take us on a rollercoaster to hell. 

Baptized Saints, consider the goodness of God right now.  The Lord has preserved the Word of God at St. Paul’s for over 125 years. We can be very thankful for that.  However, during that time, we have had many people fall prey to the Devil, capitulate to the world, and give way to the old Adam.  Many of them are not here anymore.  Many are alone in the grave as well.  This should sadden us. And while we are saddened by this, it is a wake up call to us that we all face the same dangers, for are at war. By God’s grace, we are not a church of ease but the church militant. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, there is another threat for us to be aware of, and that is the temptation of abandoning the Word to become a church of ease.  

And so, let it be our prayer today that we are not only protected from the Devil, the world, and our Old Adam but also that we do not look for ease and comfort. 

May the Lord keep you and me from the temptation of abandoning the Word of God and becoming a church at ease. May it be our cry to the Lord that He would create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us, through the seed of His Word, and therefore continue as the church militant.    

May you and I know the truth that a church at ease is not a sanctuary of holiness, but a hell-hole of deception. It is not real but fake. 

Baptized Saints hear this today. It is impossible for you and me to escape conflict from the Devil, the world, and the old Adam. This is tough to hear. But also know this day that even though you will have conflict with the Devil, clashes with the world, and fights with the old Adam, because of the Word, you will have true peace, assurance, and comfort with God the Father.  As the church militant you will be at war with the Devil, the world, and the old Adam but at peace with God the Father.    

And so, while the Devil hisses at you, the world cusses at you, and the old Adam kicks and screams like a spoiled child, know that the Lord says to you through the Word of Truth, 

“Well done! Stay steadfast dear children; you have not looked for ease and comfort but have heard the Word of truth.”  

Yes, Baptized Saints, know this, by God’s grace the Word comes forth from this church - from the liturgy, from this pulpit and lectern, from the hymns, and from this Holy Table, so that you may embrace and ever hold fast to the blessed hope of everlasting life that Jesus has given to you! And in so doing, you will not be a church at ease, but Christ’s militant church.

Remain steadfast, Baptized Saints. You are the church militant. 

May the Lord preserve you and keep you in the Word, until the day when the battle is over and He takes us all home to everlasting peace, comfort, and life.  Amen.

CLICK HERE to 'Like' on Facebook
CLICK HERE to 'Follow' on Twitter
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on iTunes
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on Podbean