Defend Every Bridge?

The War in Ukraine is not going to plan. Russia is fighting in an outdated way. This is not the 1940s. The battlefield is not just about tanks, bombs and troops. It’s also a war about international relations, social media messaging, morale, passion, and guerrilla tactics. And Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is winning on all those fronts.

We are engaged in a spiritual battle, and it’s not the 1940s on that battlefield either. Columnist Greg Sheridan, who writes for The Australian, suggests that during Christendom, Christians had a particular mindset.

We believed (correctly), we were the occupying force. The Christian Worldview was the Australian Worldview. This does not mean everyone was a Christian. But everyone believed in a God, in good and evil, in an afterlife, and that God was a just, loving, and all-knowing judge who determined our eternal destiny based on how we lived in this life. Everyone believed Jesus was a good person, and we should try and live as he did.

In military terms, when one side is the occupying force, they try to stop the invading force at every junction. They defend every bridge, so to speak. Sheridan’s advice to Christians and to the Church is this – you folks are no longer the occupying force. You cannot defend every bridge. It is an outdated way to engage in (spiritual) warfare.

Sheridan, himself a practising Catholic, writes this as a friend, not an enemy. He writes this in 2018, in his book: God is Good for You – a defence of Christianity in Troubled Times. In my opinion, the two years of Covid have only accelerated the troubles the church faces. We used to be viewed as once great but increasingly peripheral – now we are viewed as irrelevant.

But Sheridan does not argue we should just throw in the towel. Instead, we should adopt guerrilla tactics. We should pick our battles, choosing the ones where we are more likely to succeed.

Time to Listen is about having a shared conversation about what we used to do, lamenting what we can no longer sustain, agreeing on what is possible and strategic, and being intentional about doing those things.

Rev David Rietveld

Senior Minister

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