Very early on Christmas Eve morning; still trying to adjust to the huge time change from my visit to China. Can't sleep so watched a few WWII documentaries (among other things...). One of the documentaries I watched was on the fall of France in 1940. It took the Germans only five weeks to conquer the country; a country that they were not able to conquer during the whole of WWI.
The documentary presented a few explanations as to the speed of this conquest.
1. Misplaced defenses. The French had spent tons of money and tons of time creating the Maginot line (named after the defense minister who initiated the concept). This was a series of tunnels and pill boxes along the 85 mile French-German border. The problem was, the Germans attacked through the Ardenne Forest and through Belgium - neither of which were protected by the Maginot Line. In addition, the French placed their weakest and least experienced army divisions along the Belgium border and Ardenne forest.
2. Complacency. The French figured that the Maginot Line was impregnable. Although they judiciously maintained and practiced, the feeling was that the Germans could not defeat them.
3. Internal fighting. The French government was in disarray. There was a fight between factions within the cultural that created instability within the leadership of the county.
4. There was an attitude of defeatism within the population. WWI, which had only been over for 20 years, loomed large in the French population's mind. They did not want another long drawn out affair. As soon as it became apparent that the Germans were overwhelming the French army, there was talk of capitulation and armistice.
Does any of this cause you concern as you read it; concerns about the church? Are our defenses misplaced? Are we fighting the right enemy? Do we understand that our adversary is the Devil who is seeking to devour us? Do we understand that the people are held captive by him and do his bidding are not our enemy? Do we gently instruct as Paul taught Timothy (II Tim 2:25; read this verse, it is an incredible verse)? Do we know that our enemy is wise and will attack us on many fronts? Are we looking for our weak spots and moving to reinforce them through study, confession, repentance and reliance on God?
Are we complacent? Are we just trolling along in our spiritual walk, thinking that nothing is going to harm us? Do we understand that the enemy is still active and that he is just waiting for us to put our guard down so he can attack?
Are we putting our energies into fighting among ourselves instead of fighting the enemy? When the world looks at the church, do they see in fighting instead of fighting against the enemy?
Have we given up? Do we have a conqueror attitude (Rom 8:37, I John 4:4)? Have we given up that God will work in us and through us? Have we given up on God?
Lots of questions to think through. Let's not let history repeat itself in the church. I am challenged in a few of these areas, as it is very easy for me to let my guard down, very easy to cost along on the past; forgetting that Satan changes his schemes and I must stay diligent. Think through some of these questions yourself and allow them to challenge you.