Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I'm pondering this statement today:

"No battle has ever been won by retreating!"

What are the implications of this?


Kayla said...

When I read that, I can't help but wonder if it means, a historical war, or a personal "battle"???

Combs said...

I have to think that it's both. It makes sense, but on the other hand I can't shake the feeling that there is somthing wrong with the statement. If you think of retreat as the act of giving up, gaining nothing, then the statement is completly true, with out perserverance nothing is gained. But then there are times when the only option is to retreat. Sometimes attrition is the best course of action, though it's tiring and takes forever. I think to fully understand this statement, you first have to understand your definition of retreat. My one problem here is that my greatest gain has come through my submission, but then I see it as a moving towards not a running from. Like I said, it depends on you definition of retreat.

Amy said...

OK, let me explain what went through my head when I first read this statement. I was thinking in the sense of Christians retreating from the world. We see all the evil "out there," all the ungodly principles that the world lives by, and we want to separate ourselves from it.

I see in the church oftentimes this mindset of, "circle the wagons." Let's protect our families, protect the purity of the church. In practical terms, it often translates to "let's not have any contact with those ungodly sinners out there." We may recognize that we ourselves are sinners--so it's not that I'm accusing us of self-righteousness (though undoubtedly it's there at times)--but we are adamant about not being polluted or negatively influenced by the world, and so...we retreat?

I have wrestled with this for years. Where is the BALANCE (everyone's favorite word, there) between obeying God's command to be set apart, to be different from the world, to be holy as He is holy...and the truth that though we are not "of" the world, we are still IN it--we are still called to reach out to the hurting and the needy. You know, the whole concept of, what good is a bunch of salt still in the saltshaker? What good are a bunch of lights all congregated together and fenced off from the darkness rather than penetrating the darkness?

It's easy for me to say--when I have kids, I guess I'll probably want like nothing else to protect them from the corruption of the world, too. But right now, I find myself troubled by the "circle the wagons" mindset.

If we all form our own schools, our own social groups, our own subculture, how can we bring the life-giving gospel to a dying world? How can we demonstrate the love and the grace of God to people with whom we have little or no contact?

When I read, "No battle has ever been won by retreating," I wonder--how can we hope to win the battle for hearts and minds, the battle to preserve society and culture, if we retreat into little enclaves of Christians?

Any thoughts?

Amy said...

One more note, I was reading an interesting post at Between Two Worlds yesterday about the DaVinci Code movie and the various ways Christians might respond. In discussing the possible advantages of going to see the movie, the writer said this:

"Of course, if you are like many Christians and do not really have any unbelievers who are your friends, then you probably don't need to go because who do you have to share Jesus with anyway?"

Food for thought. How many Christians don't really have any meaningful relationships with unbelievers?

Combs said...

I'm really starting to hate the word ballence. My life to this point has been one desperate attempt after deperate attempt to find ballence in all things. That said...i've yet to find a better way. I remember a conversation I had my junior year with Gary Bird about whether it was better to send your kids to a Christian high school or a public school. I argued for public school because that's where I had come from, though the absuridty of the whole thing taking place at a Conservitive Christian College still makes me laugh. I'm really against labling things as Christian this or that, I don't see the point. Tony Myles had a post about Chirstian coffee houses yesterday, asking whether they are the outreach we like to call them.

I sometimes think that we create these things to protect ourselves from the world that we fear. We're afraid of its power over us, those things that we secretly want to do but can't bring ourselves it because the matrons and patrons of our church told us that they were wrong. I liked telling my parents that I went to a bar to watch the last couple of Steelers games not because I thought it was something I could hold over them, but because the laughed when I told them. They thought it was funny, and I loved to go. I had a good time talking to the guys sitting beside me and to the bartenders.

I think that we need to forget the fear that we might do somthing that goes against what we believe. We need to pray, trust God to keep us from those things, walk into the bar, order a drink (not necessarily alcohol), and start up a conversation with the guy next to you. I'm tired of us that pull back when we see someone doing what we say is wrong. It's no wonder the world has this image of us sitting behind our walls yelling out what's wrong with the world that we don't even seem apart of.

There needs to be some sort of ballence though, but I think it comes from holding to those things that make us Christian not retreating from those things that we think make us unchristian. I don't have this thing figured out, and I doubt that I ever will. But that's what I think so far.