People you connect to and have a particular affinity with are often those who’ve gone through the worst moments, who’ve prepared for the fight and stood by your side. Like soldiers who serve together in the trenches, there is a special camaraderie that comes with facing an enemy together.
Bill Muhlenberg from Culture Watch has been writing about some women who fought against the Nazis in France during World War II as part of the French Resistance. He recently joined us 20Twenty to share how this particular story contains many spiritual lessons that are still relevant to us today.
Bill says the story is half on the history of the French Resistance, and half spiritual lessons. The resistance fighters were ordinary men and women who knew they had to stop the Nazi occupation of France. Quite a few women were captured by the Gestapo and eventually sent to Auschwitz, and only a small number made it back when the war ended.
Bonding Through Trauma
‘I love history,’ says Bill. ‘I love so many of the lessons we get from the Second World War. In her book, A Train in Winter, Caroline Moorhead talks about 230 women who were all captured, all sent off to concentration camps. But at the end of the book, she talks about the 49 who made it back alive. Only a fifth came back and survived.’
In his article, Bill referenced Caroline’s observations of how close the women felt to each other after the jarring reality of what they went through. Things would never be the same for them again, and people who didn’t go through it will never fully understand. He ties that with the idea of the Christian life as a spiritual battle.
‘In the New Testament,’ says Bill, ‘we see all the military metaphors and war-time language being used. We are in a spiritual battle. There’s no question that Satan is alive and trying to undo everything God and His people are doing. We’re told to put on the whole armour of God. We’re told to fight the good fight.’
Bill explains that we see this battle in the culture wars today, we see how the spiritual battles manifest all around us in politics and society. Christians don’t want to come across as aloof or elitist, but it’s true that often the people we feel most at one with are fellow Christians who’ve been through similar battles.
Take up the Cross
‘I’m taking these lessons from real-life warfare and applying them to the spiritual realm,’ says Bill. ‘A lot of people don’t want to talk about taking up the cross, following Jesus and putting to death the things of the flesh. But these are hardcore truths of the Christian life. We tend to gravitate toward those who are aware of these truths.’
Many of us have excuses as to why we don’t get involved in the various battles of the culture wars. What you’re really doing is siding with the enemy if you’re not actively opposing those who are doing wrong. This is so destructive to the Christian faith.
‘There were plenty of collaborators in France with the Nazis,’ says Bill. ‘There ended up being war crimes trials. You can find the same spiritual reality here. A lot more Christians should be aware of what’s going on and engaged in the battle. Too many simply don’t care about the important issues.’
The Importance of Sharing the Gospel
Every day hundreds of thousands of people are dying, and how many of them are heading to a lost eternity? Do we care about them? Have we shared the gospel with our neighbours? It’s good to have relaxation, pleasure, fun and enjoy our lives. But the ultimate questions is why are we here? Why have we been put on this earth?
‘It’s not just to look after ourselves,’ says Bill. ‘It’s to be light and sound to a very dark and needy world. But that will bring you into conflict. That will bring you into battle. The forces of darkness sure won’t like it if you start praying for your neighbours. So just start speaking out for Christ and the Kingdom and you’ll very quickly find out this is indeed a spiritual war.’