Summary: First in a patriotic sermon series.
The bloodiest day in United States History was September 17, 1862 when 4,700 Union and Confederate soldiers died in the Civil War battle of Antietam. That was until September 11, 2001, when over 3,000 people were killed in a well planned terrorist attack. By comparison, 2,388 Americans were killed at Pearl Harbor, and 1,465 Americans were killed the first day of the Normandy invasion.
As a result of September 11, 2001, our nation has declared war on terrorism, and indeed, we are at war. But it is a war unlike those our nation has previously known. This enemy is elusive and cowardly. This will be a long, drawn-out affair. It will inevitably take its toll on our country. Not only are our armed forces in harm’s way, but civilians here at home are also potential targets of the enemy in this war we are involved in.
What is our responsibility as Christian citizens at a time like this? What’s the best way that we can be of service to our God and our country in this time of war? That’s what we want to address over the next few weeks. Today, I want us to see what counsel Paul gives us in Ephesians 6:10-20.
Paul tells us that we should live daily on a state of "high alert." This should be especially true of American believers during these days in which we find ourselves.
Our military has a system of terrorist condition indicators. It is called the Threat-Con (threat conditions) system. Posted at entrances and in key locations on each military base are Threat-Con signs. Most of the time they read "normal". That means standard operating procedures are in order. You do your job; you go to class; you put in your time. Normal Alert conditions are very INWARD focused. It’s all about the base - the graduations, the classes, the degrees, the promotions, the inspections. But since Sept. 11th we have moved beyond "Threat¬Con normal." You see, the Threat-con system has multiple levels.
The next level is Threat-Con Alpha. This is when there is a general threat of possible terrorist activity. The nature of that threat is unpredictable but personnel are reminded to be on the look out for anything suspicious.
Next comes Threat-Con Bravo - which leads to taking such measures as barricading streets and setting up barriers. After that comes Threat-Con-Charlie. This condition applies when an incident occurs against a military base or installation.
Finally, we come to Threat-Con Delta. This applies when there has been an actual terrorist attack and the community needs to be warned about the possibility of other attacks. On September 11th, 2001, our country went from Threat-Con Normal to Threat-Con Delta overnight. Threat-Con Delta is a state of "high alert."
In a state of high alert everything changes. There is an OUTWARD focus. The normal things might still happen but those are not what everyone is focused on. They are focused on what is going on in the world, and what their responsibilities are in light of what is going on.
There are spiritual realities at the root of every physical reality. That’s what Paul says in verse 12. This is illustrated well by the conflict we find ourselves involved in. This is perhaps one of the most unique things about it. The physical realities of this war have their root in spiritual realities.
Those who oppose America are involved in a jihad - a holy war. Their motives are based on an empty religious system that calls on its followers to contend for their faith by bringing death to others. Christ, on the other hand, calls on His followers to contend for their faith by bringing life to others. While those who have declared war on our nation use methods of death and destruction, we are to share a message of life and deliverance!
Certainly, as American citizens, we have an obligation to involve ourselves in whatever way is necessary to deal with the physical realities of this war. But we who have been made spiritually alive through faith in Christ cannot be content with contributing to our nation’s well-being on that level alone. We must commit ourselves to living in a state of "high alert" spiritually!
This brings us to the question of how we, as Christians, should respond to the challenges facing our nation in these days. We need to be living in a state of "high alert." But what does a state of "high alert" look like?
1. There is a visible change in activity - Vs. 10-11
When a nation is in a state of "high alert," daily life is no longer standard operating procedure. People are armed and ready. Troops are being moved. Routines are changed. Everything is focused on fighting the war.
Our president has called thousands of reserves to active service. They were trained but were not actively involved in the military on a day to day basis. But in a time of "high alert," such people are activated to full time status.