By Dean Brown
On Sept. 15, 1940, while visiting the RAF’s No. 11 Group in Uxbridge, England, Prime Minister Winston Churchill stood in silence as his air force came under assault by 250 German Luftwaffe planes. As his pilots returned to refuel and rearm, and the gravity of the situation began to weigh in on Churchill, he asked an Air Vice-Marshal standing nearby, “What reserves have we?” The answer he received was grim: “There are none.” Reflecting on that moment in his book, The Second World War, Churchill recalled, “The odds were great; our margins, small; the stakes, infinite.”
Churchill’s descriptive phrase could be applied to local church ministry today. Satan and his comrades are aligned against the outposts manned by pastors and their people. Faulty thinking reflective of a secularized worldview permeates many corners of the Western church and leaves people confused and rudderless. A fresh foe, terrorism, attacks our sensibilities each morning and whispers fear throughout the day. We wonder, “Where can we turn for help and hope?”
Jesus opens our eyes to reality as He interacts with Simon Peter in Matthew 16: 17-18 (Msg.):
“God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”
When the odds are great and our margins are small, remember, church leader:
1. The help and hope we long for comes from one source - the Eternal God - and cannot be found in the shifting values of a decaying world.
2. Ultimate Truth is found in a Person and not a philosophy.
3. A proper understanding of who we are, and to Whom we belong, is critical if we are to overcome the real enemy.
4. Our eternal success is guaranteed because Jesus’ church is so expansive with energy that nothing of hell can defeat it.
Because the stakes are infinite, and the odds and margins of these days are restrictive, let’s learn from the examples set in September 1940 in the skies over southern England: keep flying, keep refueling and keep rearming because the victory is ours if we walk with God and do not quit.