I love the movie Patton. Fantastic film, and the scene with George C. Scott walking in front of the flag is fantastic. And there is a beautiful line in his speech that is utterly wise. " Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." It's a beautiful inversion on the typical trope of the soldier dying, giving his life for the country. Actually, that's not the goal - the goal is to live and make some other sap give his life for his country. That's how you win.
I fear that in the Church in these days we have adapted a rather militaristic fatalistic approach. And it's understandable - we are part of the Church militant - we know the fight. But there is this attitude that we are losing, society is falling apart (as though the Church's job was to fix or perfect society in the first place). And as the fear and the chaos ramp up, the point is made - you need to be willing to die for Jesus! Especially if you are a pastor - you need to be willing to die!
I propose something much more difficult. You need to be willing to live and make alive for Jesus.
When we sinful folk get wrapped up in the world, its easy to see sin and death around us, and our flesh longs to play the sin and death games. A good fight makes sense to us - it gives us the sense of something that we can do, that we can accomplish. We can measure the enemies defeated and cast down.
But crushing your enemies isn't the goal of Jesus. He's not Conan the Barbarian. He's not the thief.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." And as Jesus was sent by the Father to give life, so too were the apostles sent: "As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." "This is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
Do you want to be a pastor? You don't need to be prepared for a fight. You need to be prepared to be always merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful. Even to the people who hate you. You need to be prepared to actually live, and to do good to those who hate you, not repaying evil for evil. You need to patiently endure evil - endure, put up with it and suffer under it.
"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned..." Live! Live a godly life - and don't let the evil or wicked stop you from living!
We have been given the words of eternal life. We proclaim Christ Jesus, who came into the world not to condemn it but that it would be saved. And if your approach is that of a fight, a battle to the death - you'll miss that.
You don't need to die - Jesus already died for you. And even if you do die, even if they take your life, goods, fame, child and wife - they have nothing won. The kingdom is yours now and forever.
And the world tries to make you forget that. But God will raise up preachers to proclaim His forgiveness and life, in season and out of season, to people who like it or like it not. And that is the thing - when they don't like it - still show love. Still proclaim mercy and forgiveness.
Still live, because you have been made alive in Christ - and you speak a life giving word. Jesus doesn't need you to fight for Him. Instead, He will open your lips so that your mouth will declare His praise. That's what the world needs now - to hear the praises of Christ.