Sunday, 3 October 2010

'This is Sparta.'Lessons in spiritual warfare from the 300.

What a film 300 is. It appeals to all that is good and noble in a man: touching to the very depths of his soul. A true macho film indeed, exalting bravery, love,war,heroism. In 300 the heroes fight against incredible odds in order to defeat tyranny. I suspect that those who regard this film as sick because of the gore don't really understand it. There is romance it it, as well as honour to woman. There is also love of a father for his son, the love between a man and his friends and the love of a commander for his men.Greater love has no man than this that he lays down his life for his friends. In 300 they are all prepared to die for one another.In one scene Xerxessays says : It isn't wise to stand against me, Leonidas. Imagine what horrible fate awaits my enemies when I would gladly kill any of my own men for victory to which King Leonidas replies: And I would die for any one of mine.

When King Leonidas declares to the Persian messenger:'THIS IS SPARTA', it makes me think that when Satan or his minions come to the Church or to an individual Christian in order to seduce, to cause them to surrender we should be no less uncompromising and declare: 'THIS IS THE NEW ISRAEL' or 'THIS IS THE LORD'S'-then send them packing! But we live in an age of compromise, we don't like to fight even though the Bible tells us again and again that we are in a battle. True enough we wrestle not against flesh and blood but we do or at least should wrestle against principalities and powers, against a spiritual host of wickedness.We need to watch each others backs, stand up and be strong allowing no room for petty jealousies or rivalries.We have a common enemy and we must live and fight for our Commander in Chief who laid down his life for us. We need to pray the way Wesley exhorts us:

From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry in all His soldiers, 'Come!'
Till Christ the Lord descends from high and takes the conquerors home

The danger for Christians even though they may have discovered the reality of spiritual warfare is to resist and fight Satan in their own strength. As another great hymn puts it:

'Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in his strength alone.
The arm of flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own,
put on the gospel armour each piece put on with prayer,
when duty calls or danger be never wanting there'.

We must continually be filled with the Spirit and rely on his power as well as the finished work of Christ.Another thing,there may be a time when the Christian must retreat for strategic reasons. This is when we feel overwelmed by the force of evil though attacks of depression or temptation. However we don't run back to the world or find refuge in the world,instead we must run into Christ. As David, himself a great warrior declared so often-'the Lord is my rock and salvation I will not fear' and again in a prayer:'have mercy on me, have mercy me for in Thee my soul takes refuge, in the shadow of Thy wing my soul takes refuge, till the storm of destruction passes by.'Yet again we find exhortation in Proverbs when the writer declares : The name of the Lord is a strong tower,the righteous run into it and are safe(Prov. 18.10) We of course have our spiritual armour as decribed by Paul in Ephesians 6 included the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. He has provided our weapons and armour it is therefore up to us to use it in battle.In the midst of battle we should have our eyes on our Captain and have confidence that in Him the victory is secure.

Interestingly the first time I heard about the Spartans was when I was a boy of eleven at the Scripture Union Inter Schools Camp at Carrickfin in Co. Donegal. The leaders of the Camps taught us there that Christians had to be tough if we were going to make it in the Christian life-there was a cost involved in following Jesus.Those boys who were designated Spartans by the leaders at the end of the week were those who got up every day (rain ,hail or snow)15 minutes before the rest in order to run down to the beach for a swim, making sure they got our heads under the water (Muscular Christianity!). Happy days they were and the leaders formed many a young boy into a faithful soldier of Christ. One of my heroes at that time was a school teacher called Billy Burnison, who now in his 70's is still serving his Commader-in-Chief.Thanks Billy for being such a good example.

Xerxes: But I am a generous god. I can make you rich beyond all measure. I will make you warlord of all Greece. You will carry my battle standard to the heart of Europa. Your Athenian rivals will kneel at your feet if you will but kneel at mine.
King Leonidas: You are generous as you are divine, O king of kings. Such an offer only a madman would refuse. But the, uh, the idea of kneeling, it's- You see, slaughtering all those men of yours has, uh, well it's left a nasty cramp in my leg, so kneeling will be hard for me.

Xerxes: It isn't wise to stand against me, Leonidas. Imagine what horrible fate awaits my enemies when I would gladly kill any of my own men for victory.
King Leonidas: And I would die for any one of mine.

Queen Gorgo: There's only one woman's words that should affect the mood of my husband. Those are mine.


Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son
Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.
Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o'ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.

Stand then against your foes, in close and firm array;
Legions of wily fiends oppose throughout the evil day;
But meet the sons of night, and mock their vain design,
Armed in the arms of heavenly light, of righteousness divine.
Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul,
Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole;
Indissolubly joined, to battle all proceed;
But arm yourselves with all the mind that was in Christ, your Head.

But, above all, lay hold on faith's victorious shield;
Armed with that adamant and gold, be sure to win the field:
If faith surround your heart, Satan shall be subdued,
Repelled his every fiery dart, and quenched with Jesu's blood.
Jesus hath died for you! What can His love withstand?
Believe, hold fast your shield, and who shall pluck you from His hand?
Believe that Jesus reigns; all power to Him is giv'n:
Believe, till freed from sin's remains; believe yourselves to Heav'n.

To keep your armor bright, attend with constant care,
Still walking in your Captain's sight, and watching unto prayer.
Ready for all alarms, steadfastly set your face,
And always exercise your arms, and use your every grace.
Pray without ceasing, pray, your Captain gives the word;
His summons cheerfully obey and call upon the Lord;
To God your every want in instant prayer display,
Pray always; pray and never faint; pray, without ceasing, pray!

In fellowship alone, to God with faith draw near;
Approach His courts, besiege His throne with all the powers of prayer:
Go to His temple, go, nor from His altar move;
Let every house His worship know, and every heart His love.
To God your spirits dart, your souls in words declare,
Or groan, to Him Who reads the heart, the unutterable prayer:
His mercy now implore, and now show forth His praise,
In shouts, or silent awe, adore His miracles of grace.

Pour out your souls to God, and bow them with your knees,
And spread your hearts and hands abroad, and pray for Zion's peace;
Your guides and brethren bear for ever on your mind;
Extend the arms of mighty prayer, ingrasping all mankind.
From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry in all His soldiers, 'Come!'
'Til Christ the Lord descends from high and takes the conquerors home


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

This is also one of my favorite movies, as it is a metaphor for the Christian life of spiritual warfare. The film is emphatically ikonic, and we know it's true because in Christ we experience many of the same things.

The corruption of "religion" that tries to enslave us and lead us down the paths of defeat, the strength of freedom which is anything but free, but which enables a few to be victorious, even in death, over many.

I can't praise this movie enough.
Thanks for this post, brother.
Another bond of unity.

It doesn't surprise me that we are so spiritually close, because both the ancient church of the Greeks (which still lives on and of which I am a citizen) and the revived church of the great Reformers both partake of the same Spirit and drink from the same Font of Living Water, that is, the Word of God.

The Spartans, if you will believe what is written in the books of Maccabees, considered themselves to be of one race with the ancient Hebrews, but whether that is true or not, both ancient peoples were forerunners of the Church of Christ.

It does me good to know that you also appreciate this great film, and have written about it as you have. A hearty thank you, beloved friend and brother.

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

This post of yours prompted me to republish a post I had written a while back. It is now the latest post at Cost of Discipleship: Holy unreason

Andrew said...

Brother Andrew Kenny, I humbly ask you to show where anyone uses the words "New Israel" in the Bible?