Recently, I read a series of books on World War II. One book was particularly interesting to me as it focused on the experience of the people, both civilian and soldier, and the conditions that they lived through in the great conflict of that world war. Typically, such books describe strategies, offensive lines, political conditions and the leadership struggles of the principle players. This book was different because it reminded me of the horrible living conditions of the soldiers (on both sides of the conflict) as well as the civilians (elderly, women and children) and what it took to survive in one of history’s most desperate times. It was clearly one of history’s low moments as the value of human life was reduced to nothing more than tools and/or obstacles for the political gains of the world leaders.
As the book outlined the conditions of soldier life, one thing was clear, and upon reflection, should not have been surprising. There was a strong camaraderie among the soldiers. In fact, one soldier wrote in his journal several months after the war had ended “I really miss the war….” He was referring to the bonding experience he came to know along the battles lines of northern France. He went on to write that he missed the strong companionship of his foxhole friends.
This companionship developed despite the fact that the soldiers were from different countries, different backgrounds, different social status and different people groups. The camaraderie among the soldiers arose from knowing they had a common enemy that would kill them at all cost. It is amazing how differences that once seemed important can be set aside when there is a common vision and also a common enemy. The things that often divide us as people become irrelevant to a soldier who is depending on that other person for help to stay alive. When you are simply trying to survive… together … all other differences become insignificant.
I think this is illustrative of the Christian life and why community should exist in the church. Camaraderie is just another way to describe community. Certainly, we share a common goal, as the Lord himself left us the command, in Matthew 28:19-20, to “go and make disciples…” and this continues to be our marching orders. We certainly have a common enemy who seeks to destroy and defeat, 1 Peter 5:8, any Christian within his reach. The Bible says that we are in a battle, Ephesians 6:10-18, and that what is at stake are the souls of people. This reality is very evident in the persecuted church around the world. For them fellowship with other believers is a cherished experience with people who are allies in the struggle for survival. This does not seem to be the case in the life of a typical Christian that I meet in Canada. Why not? Why do people in the church today seem disconnected? After all, most people attend big churches where they are unneeded and unnoticed and are fine with that. This does not seem like the missional church described in Acts 2:44-47. I am left wondering what has happened. Let me know what you are thinking. I would be glad to hear your thoughts on this.
Do you think that people today have lost their conviction that we have a spiritual enemy who wants to destroy us?
Do you think we are becoming complacent about our Christian life because it does not appear that Satan is trying to destroy us as is the case with those in the persecuted church?
Has this persuaded us to be more individualistic in our Christian life and lead us away from a strong connectedness and fellowship with other Christians?