Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister on May 10, 1940. The same day, Germany invaded France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. I recently watched the Darkest Hour, an excellent movie about the opening days of Churchill’s tenure.
The movie accurately depicts the almost universal belief that a German invasion of England was imminent, complete with the specter of Nazi rule over England. Churchill faced a dilemma— tell the truth about the military situation and risk demoralizing the public, or withhold the truth, leaving the people unprepared for the pending fall of France and peril to Great Britain.
At that moment in history, Churchill addressed the British Parliament and declared, “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
Winston Churchill was not perfect. He drank too much. His quick tongue could both inspire and offend. Yet, he had an ability to see what others did not see. He prophesied the threat posed by Adolf Hitler when almost everyone else buried their collective heads in the sand.
As I watched the movie, I thought to myself, “what can we in our little world at Gateway Rescue Mission learn from this history?” I recently met with two young ladies who looked like they should be teaching children’s Sunday School, but instead are working to rescue women from sex trafficking in Jackson. Yes, it’s really happening here.
I got a call not long after that informing me that 300 inmates in the correctional system have been granted parole with no place to go. Then there’s the ever-present opioid epidemic. Crystal meth, crack cocaine, marijuana and plain old alcoholism are still going strong.
I’m no Winston Churchill and we don’t have the German Wehrmacht positioned across the English Channel. Yet, we do have an enemy and I’m not talking about that doofus in North Korea. I’m talking about a spiritual enemy, the devil of old. Diabolos in the Greek; Satan in the Hebrew. We have a choice. Fight, surrender, or negotiate.
It’s easy to forget 78 years later how much pressure Churchill faced within his own government to negotiate “peace” with Hitler. Yet, Churchill knew that peace with a murderous madman would mean tyranny for the British people.
As Christians, many of us would say “we shall never surrender” with our lips yet negotiate with the spiritual forces of darkness because we don’t want to personally go to war. Let somebody else deal with the girls being pimped in the motels up and down I-55 in Jackson by organized crime. Let somebody else deal with the inmates or the mentally ill.
Oh, and if you do jump in the fight, expect to be criticized. Expect to be told you’re not doing it right. You’re forcing religion down their throats or you’re not Christian enough or your too rule-oriented or you don’t offer the right services or programs. I’ve heard it all.
People, we are in a war against any enemy who will not compromise or negotiate. Jesus said the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly. (John 10:10) I wasn’t the sharpest tool in seminary, but I learned enough to know Jesus is talking symbolically of Diabolos, Satan, the devil of old.
We are at war, right here at home. Not everybody wants to hear this. Some people just want a warm, fuzzy Christianity. We’re not perfect at Gateway Rescue Mission, but we are in the fight in a spiritual war that spills over into our physical space daily. I believe that Jesus lived, died and rose again to ultimately provide victory in this war. In the meantime, we must decide whether to fight, surrender or negotiate. That may offend some, but as Winston Churchill said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you stood up for something, sometime in your life.”