Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Church Needs Warriors: Warriors Need The Church.

Fr. Dale Matson

“He [Sampson] found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, so he reached out and took it and killed a thousand men with it.” (Judges 15:15) “Your servant [David] has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied [disrespected] the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:36) “ One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one; he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. (Exodus 2:11-12)

The world does not lack warriors today. You can find them in prisons in gangs like the Mandingo Warriors or the Aryan Warriors. They are the “one percenters” like the Hell’s Angels or the Mongols. They are in street gangs like the Bloods, Crips or M-13.  These individuals have become warriors to the exclusion of the other male archetypes within them such as Wildman, King, Prophet or Shaman.

So much of the gang life is designed to cultivate the warrior archetype to the exclusion of everything else. These are not individuated men. Gangs are tribal and members have submitted to the authority of other men. They submit to the gang leadership.  The gang provides the core meaning and rules of conduct for their lives. The gang is family, security, structure, brotherhood, and mutual respect. The level of commitment to the gang is to the death and each member understands the level of commitment.  Previously, the warrior was an archetype that was respected, civilized and nurtured by society and the church. The only warriors that society still honors today are soldiers. Many motorcycle club/gang members are former military men.

Gang members are warriors shunned by society and initiated and nurtured by other warriors. They are initiated into a manhood that is one dimensional and why is this? Why are gangs so commonplace today? It is because gangs serve a purpose. Many warriors are displaced because being a warrior is no longer honored by society. The church has also driven men away with a gender neutral and increasingly feminine god. Yahweh has become Gaia. Being patriarchal is pass’e. Gangs are fraternal organizations ruled by men. Churches so often have become matriarchal. No man, especially a warrior will allow himself to be ruled by a woman. As a man, he has overthrown the rule of his mother. How convincing is the bumper sticker, “Real Men Love Jesus”? There are plenty of ‘hang around’ men and boys that love Him also.  Having guns, knives, affiliation patches and being covered in ink may go along with being a warrior but does it make one fully a man? Does it completely fill the gnawing hole inside? Ask Nicky Cruz.

So what does this have to do with the church? How is a church different than a gang? So much of what we do is like gang business. We deal with righteousness, taking care of business, respect for one another. Church is about looking out for one another, truth and recruiting new members too. Isn't baptism about being “jumped in” by the church with an oath of loyalty after a period of initiation? It is the job of the church to equip and send. Have gang members often been used by their leadership? Yes, and so have church members.

Lord, I pray that the church would be a place for many of these displaced warriors. I pray that they would see what the full stature of a man can become and is, in Jesus the Christ. Give them a new place with new meaning. Let them find true freedom in being a slave to Jesus Christ. It is not about the gang life. It is about eternal life. Let them be empowered by the Holy Spirit and awaken to the love of their Father in heaven.

Finally, I offer this passage which continually speaks to my heart about my level of commitment to the church. I believe gang members would understand it too.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1) That should be the commitment of the Christian man to his church. It is the level of commitment of gang members to their gangs.

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