The soldier comes off the battlefield and collapses into his bunk. His buddy glances across at him and notices something horrible. His right leg has been blown off.
“Man, it was a hard battle, but I’m all right. No scratches.”
“Yeah, I had some close calls, but I did not fall. In fact, I’ve never fallen in battle. Always come away perfectly fine!”
“But your leg – ”
How ridiculous! It’s hard to imagine how a soldier would receive such a major blow and not tell his fellow soldiers.
Yet it’s very easy to imagine in spiritual warfare.
In the barracks of the Christian life, no one talks about their injuries. Sure, they talk about the small stuff – the inconveniences of warfare. But no one ever acknowledges the wounds they got from the past week of warfare.
Fighting in the Same War
In 1 Peter 5:8-11, Peter tells us to suit up because we have a fierce, lion-like enemy on the prowl. He says to resist him, and then tells us something we can know for sure in this battle:
“…knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (vs. 9)
We have a brotherhood. Not a brotherhood around a pick-up game of basketball or a round of golf. This is a brotherhood of battle.
You have fellow soldiers in this fight all around you. That old man in the pew in front of you – yes, the one with the hearing aids. That lady who sings far too loudly and operatically behind you. Even that super-annoying junior higher that plays too much Clash of Clans.
If they’re in God’s family, they’re in God’s army. Even if they’re a thousand years older or younger. All generations are in the battle – together.
Covering Our Battle Scars
Let’s stop pretending to be super spiritual. We’re not. Let’s stop pretending to have perfect families and perfect marriages and perfect jobs and perfect morality. We don’t.
On Sunday mornings, we are not like immaculately-groomed dogs arriving for the dog show. We are ravaged wild dogs who hobble in with a limp because of a fight in the dark alley the night before.
The lion has prowled this week. Some of us have scars from his claws. But we hide them with a three-piece suit and bow-tie.
We desperately hope no one notices that we’re missing a leg.
How silly. No, how stupid.
We are all facing the same kind of trials, Peter says. We might as well be open about it.
No more fake smiles on cheeks that were stained with tears mere hours before. No more “I’m doing great!” from the same mouth that yelled at your wife and your God on the ride over.
It’s time for honesty with our battle buddies.
A quote hangs on the wall in my church’s youth center:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Let’s rephrase it slightly,
“Be open about your struggles, for everyone you meet is fighting beside you in the same hard battle.”