Hurt Locker is a 2008 American war film depicting the adventures of an American bomb disposal team stationed in 2004 Iraq. Bravo Company is patrolling the stress filled streets of Baghdad.
Specialist Eldridge confides in the camp psychiatrist Colonel Cambridge that he’s terrified of being killed during the closing weeks of his combat stint. The naive colonel, who’s never been “outside the wire”, encourages Eldridge to view the remaining weeks as “fun”, and to avoid viewing the Iraqis as enemies, but as friends who, when treated kindly, will reciprocate back with kindness.
One afternoon, the psychiatrist colonel, who has a wife and children waiting back home, requests to tag along with Eldridge on a patrol mission. When he observes Eldridge’s anxiety level rising, he seeks to “show him the way” of sober calmness by speaking kindly and friendly with the Iraqis. Colonel Cambridge boldly wanders away from the team’s safety orbit to make friends with a civilian by handing out candy. But instead of finding a pal, the naive psychiatrist is blown to bits when a cunning suicide bomber is detonated in his presence.
You fool, Cambridge! Didn’t you realize that you were dealing with mighty forces of hatred and hostility that won’t be overcome simply with a charming voice and a Hershey bar?
Sometimes in this great spiritual warfare against spiritual forces of wickedness, I must admit that I occasionally slip into the naive mindset of the camp psychiatrist. I’m a soldier for Christ, and I sometimes think that if we use just the right technique, if we get friendly enough, the citizens of this world will be warmed to us, our message, and our ministry. “We’ve just got to meet them where they are, love them self -sacrificially, empathize sincerely and contextualize wisely. Surely we’ll win them wholesale over to our camp!”
That’s just what Jesus did. His ministry was picture perfect, and they crucified Him. Paul’s ministry was ideally contextualized (circumcised Timothy, shaved his head, ate unclean food, etc.), and they beat, imprisoned, persecuted, stoned, and sought to assassinate him. Why? Because there was a mighty underlying hatred and hostility between The Dragon and The Lamb that wouldn’t be overcome by a cool haircut, a cutting edge diet, a charming voice, or a Hershey bar.
More than Islamic terrorism hates the USA, do sinners hate Christ and His gospel.
So we shouldn’t continuously beat ourselves up when we face hard-hearted opposition to the truth, as if we’re necessarily “doing it wrong”. Such twisted thinking can intimidate us into morphing our message of “the bread of life” into “the candy of like-ability”.
Captain Jesus gave us wise basic training on Crucifixion Eve:
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; . . . He who hates Me hates My Father also. . . they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. . . But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE’ (John 15:18-25).
Matthew Henry: “Christ’s followers cannot expect better treatment in the world than their master had.”
John Flavel: “Who is more innocent than Christ? And who is more persecuted? The world is still the world.”
May the Lord visit our “becoming all things to all men” ministries with resurrection power, and new birth breath. May spiritual suicide bombers unstrap The Dragon’s backpacks, and come over to the camp of The Lamb. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light!
The scary thing is when the ministry devolves so we become greater than the master in escaping persecution. Woe unto you when all men speak well of you.