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Hold the Line!

One of my favorite movies as a kid was the movie Gettysburg. Of all the scenes, my favorite was Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Regiment leading his men at the extreme flank during the battle of Little Round Top. If they didn’t hold the line, the Union position would be compromised at best, or, at worst, routed and chased out of Gettysburg, giving General Lee’s army leave to head north of the Potomac River. Based on this historical event, the 20th Maine Regiment, nearly out of ammunition, told to hold the line at all costs, fixed bayonets (for those who don’t know, it’s a long, sharp blade that one fixes to the end of a rifle) and charged in to the Alabama Brigade of General Hood’s Division. Against all odds, facing large losses, the 20th Maine, led by Colonel Chamberlain charged down the hill and routed the Confederate Soldiers and held the line.

In Scripture, this is what we, as followers of Jesus are called to do as well. We’re not called to fight any battles of flesh and blood, but to wear our armor, and fight against spiritual forces. The Church was born in to a world hostile toward it, and we, also, are in such an environment. Why? Because we’re in, as C.S. Lewis called it, enemy territory. The world is held, not by flesh and blood, but by Spiritual forces that seek to destroy what is light so that it may preserve its darkness. Loved ones, we’re in the same position as the 20th Maine: low ammunition, beset by fearsome enemies, and told to hold the line at all costs. The Lord is at hand! The victory is His! Hold fast, put your armor on and stand firm! Don’t let the enemy intimidate you, don’t let the enemy beat you down. Our enemies are not flesh and blood, and the battle is the Lord’s! Stand firm!

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

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