Hold the line! I can hear this echoed in movie after movie. Whether Braveheart or one of the Marvel movies, hold the line is a reference to battle where everyone stays put and does not let anything through. Hold the line can by and large be seen as a defensive methodology. But simply holding the line is never the end goal. At jsut the right time, advancement is key. No military worth its weight will simply hold the line. They’ll advance. They’ll overtake. They’ll move forward and slowly, methodically, effectively overtake the enemy’s advancements.
Unfortunately it seems the church has for many years now taken a hold the line approach to ministry. We’ve grown largely comfortable simply holding the line. We’ve circled our wagons to protect the weaker ones in our gathering. We’ve protected our buildings and our programs, our staff and our families. But is that really the right way? Is that even biblical?
If we’re at all honest with ourselves, it will be very clear that Jesus never said Hold the line. He never said protect your buildings and programs. He never said cower in fear because you might lose your job or hurt someone’s feelings by telling them what you believe. Holding the line should not be our plan. It wasn’t Jesus’ plan and it certainly should not be ours either.
By simply holding the line we’ve given up a significant part of our identity as church. There are some in church-topia who are called evangelical. An evangelical church is one that identifies with the commission of Jesus to share the gospel. It’s kind of where we get our idea of evangelism. You can see how the two words are very similar. But when we circle our wagons and hold these biblical truths to ourselves, we lose this evangelical portion of our identity.
Jesus wasn’t joking when he said that he came to seek and to save the lost. This wasn’t a derogatory claim about people who saw life differently. It was an honest assessment that without Christ who is the way you are left without a way, therefore you are lost when it comes to eternal salvation. I don’t want to get all end of the world, book of revelation on you here but we’re living in a time that is unlike anything we’ve experienced before. Sure there are similarities to previous generations but due to population density and technology advancements, we’re moving faster than ever. And that movement is largely away from the way.
So the longer we try to hold the line the more ground we’re going to lose. The evangelical church across the country and likely around the world, is losing credibility. We’re losing ground because we stopped doing what was inherent to our DNA. An evangelical church is to be about the gospel, but the church today is more concerned with tradition, politics, social justice matters, buildings, programs, styles of music and dress code than the gospel. None of these things are wrong and the church definitely needs to take a stand in some of these arenas, but we must never step off of our primary identity as proclaimers of the gospel.
The gospel, for those of you that don’t know, is the truth that there is no other way to salvation than through Jesus Christ. It’s the harsh, for some, reality that Jesus lived, died and rose and went through what we deserved. The gospel is that on our own we can do good things like help our neighbor with their lawn but we’ll never do anything of lasting value in someone’s life. The gospel is that Jesus did for you what you could never do for yourself and that apart from him we all are lost.
If the church today wants to be relevant in society. If we want to have credibility in our communities, then we need to get back to who we are at our core. We must step back onto the Bible as our sole source and norm for all that we teach and confess. We must stop circling our wagons. The time to stop holding the line is now. We must advance into this world with the power of the gospel, the life-changing, sinner freeing, eternity unlocking gospel.
If you don’t know this gospel message, then by all means reach out. I’d love to share it with you! If you do know this gospel message, then who are you going to share it with today (not tomorrow but today)! The world is in desperate need of what you have to offer. It’s time to release the line. The time is now!