Wartime Reflections: Christ and the Warrior Spirit
From death, we venerate life. Adversity begets vistas of grace, trial quickening conviction.
Michael Monsoor never anticipated the decision he would be confronted with on September 29th, 2006 as the grenade thumped off his chest to the floor at his feet. He and his comrades were hunting insurgents on the streets of Ramadi. Monsoor, three other SEALs, and three Iraqi’s occupied a rooftop position to cover the force below as the local populace blockaded the streets. A loudspeaker from the nearby Mosque summoned the locals to fight the Crusaders.
Amid the din of gunfire, the fog of battle, an insurgent below hurled the grenade, drilling Monsoor in the chest. An adjacent doorway offered an escape route. He was the only with a chance.
Him or his friends.
Love and the Warrior Spirit
What distinguishes the warrior spirit is a definitive lack of reasonability. Most men cower in the shadow of that which might be considered reasonable, meekly shuddering at the thought of anything irrational. We seek that which is judicious and sensible, that which is safe. The pursuits of men always terminate nowhere else but on self.
The warrior spirit demands selflessness, the fearlessness to subordinate self on behalf of a greater good, an entirely unreasonable prospect. Selflessness cuts across the grain of our humanity. From whence does such an inhumane notion arise?
At the Last Supper, Jesus declares to His disciples, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV)* Jesus exhorts his disciples to love one another, in the same way that He loves them. (v. 12)
God created all men in His image. As the Imago Dei, men possess the capacity to imitate God in some regard, His communicable attributes. Thus we may reason, think, pursue holiness, and most of all, love. Yet, sin mars the image of God in men, corrupting it. We catch occasional glimpses, but its glory is forever concealed…apart from Christ.
As the Holy Spirit regenerates the hearts of men that they may believe upon Jesus, He comes to indwell in them. The Holy Spirit is given of men that He may empower them to His purposes. The Holy Spirit gives men the capacity to love as Christ loved, fearlessly disregarding self or any consideration of self.
In his exposition on love to the church at Corinth, Paul describes a love that is patient and kind, a love that does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, a love that does not insist on its own way. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5) Paul describes a selfless love. Interestingly, he concludes his exposition on love with one of my favorite passages:
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” 1 Corinthians 13:11
The business of men is to love, to love selflessly, fearlessly, to lay down our lives for our friends. Selfish love reeks of childishness. Paul exhorts men to cast aside these childish ways, to love as men, to love as Christ. Absent the Holy Spirit, no man may love in this regard.
Apart from the Holy Spirit, the warrior spirit lies dormant in the heart of a man.
Some confuse courage for the warrior spirit. The godless courage of our enemies perfectly exhibits bravery absent the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. I can imagine the fear in a man’s heart as he straps on a suicide vest or gets behind the wheel of an armored car bomb. Yet to the slaughter they go, by the thousands. Wicked men bravely lay down their own lives to take the lives of their fellow man. Hate motivates them, they are twisted by it. This is not the spirit of the warrior, but the spirit of anti-Christ.
The warrior spirit seeks not to take life, but to give it.
The Holy Spirit is the Fount, welling up in the hearts of the redeemed, moving them to love as Christ loves, to lay down their lives for their friends. The amalgation of courage and godly love typifies the warrior spirit. From this, men accomplish the remarkable, that which most would consider unreasonable.
Loving in this regard is the business of men. Loving in this regard is the business of a warrior. The warrior spirit beckons; glory awaits.
The Love of a Warrior
The warrior spirit broke forth in the heart of Michael Monsoor. With no time to think, no time to rationalize, no time to consider options, Michael Monsoor acted. Him or his friends. In that instant, Michael Monsoor displayed for the world the love of Christ, our all-sufficient Savior, as he dove on the grenade, trading his life for the lives of his friends, giving his life that they may live.
The Spirit of God compels men to that which might otherwise be deemed irrational. The Spirit of God gives men the love in their hearts requisite to sacrifice, to give of themselves up to and including their very lives. The Spirit of God accomplishes that which men could never accomplish of their own regard.
Two of Michael Monsoor’s friends were wounded, but lived. He died within the hour.
Every Man a Warrior
Okay, I get it. You’re a dentist, or a construction worker, or a filling station attendant or maybe you even serve in the military in a non-combatant role. Simmer down, Marines. Every man a rifleman. I get it. In honesty, the overwhelming majority of men will never be confronted as Michael Monsoor was. Most men will never square off against a physical enemy in combat. What need have they of the warrior spirit?
Scripture assures us of a nastier battlefield, the spiritual, against an enemy who shows no quarter, Satan and his minions, with eternal ramifications, men condemned to suffer for eternity in hell. (Ephesians 6:12) The physical veils a deeper reality, a broader context. God calls every man to soldier on behalf of Christ in surprising ways. Every man possesses a great need for the warrior spirit.
—It is the warrior spirit that drives a man to subordinate his career on behalf of his family.
—The warrior spirit motivates a man to love his wife unconditionally, as Christ loved the church.
—The warrior spirit compels a man to raise up his children in the way of the Lord, maybe take in and raise children that do not belong to him.
—The warrior spirit equips a rightly motivated man, to accomplish all that God has called him to accomplish.
O’ man, you need not a physical battlefield to have need of the warrior spirit. The Father is seeking warriors such as you. Many men profess that they’d die for their wives or their children. Would you instead live for them? There is no greater love than this.
*Certain verses I feel necessary to quote in the KJV despite the limitations of the Textus Receptus, including Psalm 23.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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