I played the position of linebacker in college football. I loved defense. Our particular team had a reputation for playing an aggressive attack style of defense. We were not waiting to see what the offense was going to do and then react. We attacked with the idea of disrupting the offense.
I used to hate it if we ever got to the point late in the game where the coach said, “Let’s go with prevent defense.” For those of you who don’t know what prevent defense is, it is a scheme implemented, usually late in the game, designed to preserve the lead and run out the clock. It wasn’t very aggressive. In prevent defensive schemes you play softer up front, fall back a little deeper, and simply try to prevent big plays. It was a fall back and play it safe mentality. Just run out the clock and we would win.
The big problem with prevent defense was that the only thing it usually prevented was the defense being aggressive in attacking the offense. It was usually easier for the other team to move the ball in shorter gains. It is a little demoralizing for the defense, especially if they played aggressively. Aggressive defenses were used to attacking and disrupting the offense, not simply defending the score.
Christians and churches can subtly fall into prevent defensive, personally and corporately. When Jesus announced He was going to build His church He added the important feature that should mark it. The gates of hell shouldn’t stop her.
Mat 16:18 NASB “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Near ancient city gates there were places in the walls where the city conducted business, held court, and deliberated on public matters. Jesus was saying that the church He builds would push forward towards enemy controlled territory and their gates wouldn’t be able to keep them out. Jesus was referring to a promise God gave to Abraham’s seed (which we are in Jesus Gal 3:29) that they would possess their enemies gates. Gen 22:17 NASB indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.
The best defense is a good offense
Churches and Christians are called to go forward, not just hold the fort! There is a
quote that has been used in the military as well as sporting circles, “the best defense is a good offense.” It means that if you are aggressively attacking your opponents, they will be so busy fighting off your attack that they will not be able to attack you.
We should be seeking ways to see the Kingdom of God advance. The creation mandate in the garden was “be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.” The church continues to move in that mandate. Eph 1:22-23 MSG He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. (23) The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. We aren’t hiding from the enemies’ gates as they attack us. We are to go forward into enemy held territory, pushing through the gates that try to keep us out.
Even the way Jesus taught us to pray had forward movement in it. It was more about scoring points than running the clock out as comfortable as we can. Mat 6:10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Offensive, not defensive prayers
If you listen to the prayers at most Christian gatherings there is little forward movement or taking ground in them. The majority of prayers at Christian gatherings would lead one visiting to believe that God’s whole reason for existence is to make sure life is easy, free of trouble or discomfort, and full of personal healthy and success.
Here is how it usually goes, “do we have any prayer request tonight?” “My wrist is swollen; pray that my move goes smooth; please pray-I pulled my hamstring and may not be able to play soccer Sunday (during church services of course); pray that Susie’s haircut and highlights to come out perfectly, as only God can do them; pray that Jenny loses these last five pounds so she can fit into her bikini before leaving on vacation; pray that my team wins the championship; pray for my cousin to find her little dog who ran away.” God does care about the little details of our life but come on, there is not much “possessing the gates of the enemy” in those prayers!
There is nothing wrong with praying for needs. The Bible says to cast all your troubles upon the Lord (Ps. 55:22, 1 Pet. 5:7), but what about advancement? What about His kingdom going forward? What about us possessing the enemies gates in people’s lives? How about, “destroying the works of the devil” in the lives of people? 1Jn 3:8…Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. You don’t win wars against the devil by being in prevent defense.
I guarantee that if our prayers have no forward movement in them then our lives will have little forward movement in them. Instead of just praying and hoping that so and so doesn’t backslide how about scoring some spiritual points? When facing opposition and persecution this is the type of prayer they prayed in the early church (Acts 4:21-37) when they prayed for God’s word to spread accompanied with signs and wonders. How about scoring on the enemy? We are not here to run out the clock, we are here to advance the Kingdom of God and see the gates of the enemy cave in to the advance of God’s people.
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