What does it take to win a spiritual war? I believe that lessons can be learned from one of the most hard-fought struggles in modern history, World War II. In my previous posts on the subject, I looked at the organization and strategy needed to win the war in Europe in 1944. As important as the Battle of Normandy was, it might have been the great Soviet defense of Kursk in 1943 that turned the tide of the war.
Hitler and Germany held the upper hand in much of Europe in 1943. After the loss of many German troops earlier in the year, the Germans delayed their offensive. Conventional wisdom said that the Soviets should launch an all-out attack. But instead of wearing themselves out with a risky offensive, they created one of the greatest defenses of all time. So when the Germans came in, the Soviets were ready. The Germans lost badly; the Soviets advanced to the west. Meanwhile, as the Germans sent more and more troops to attack the Soviet defense, holes opened up in their own defense and the Allies attacked from all sides. Italy, a chief southern stronghold, came under Allied control. Germany, disheartened by the loss, opted chose to hunker down and build their great Atlantic Wall of landmines, spikes, and machine gun turrets. They stopped going on the offensive and waited for the Allies to come to them, perhaps thinking back to the Soviet strategy at Kursk.
What was different was that the Germans attacked the Soviets at Kursk on mainly one side with little in the way of surprise; the Allied forces at Normandy were attacking the Germans on multiple sides (the Soviets distracting some of the German forces in the east). The Germans operated with a hastily thrown together force whose units oftentimes acted independently of each other; the Allied forces attacked with one of the most organized offensives of the war, each unit communicating with the other after months of preparation. The Germans put up a tough fight, but were defeated and continued retreating until their total surrender less than a year later.
So what does all of this have to do with spreading the gospel? Many lessons can be learned. First, sometimes the greatest thing we can do is put up a good defense. Love is our defense. Wave after wave of threatenings can come from our accusers. Christians united in love will silence every one of them. Loving others when they love us is no hard task; loving unconditionally in face of insults and violence will display who our Savior is to the world. He doesn’t hate; God is love.
Second, after the attacks quiet down, then you go on the offensive. God should not be portrayed as the God of “you can’t do that.” He’s the God of great possibilities and gives all the chance to rise above their failures and live an overcoming life. He offers His friendship, His Hope, and His eternal life to all who will hear.
And that leads to a third lesson. Take every opportunity to share the Gospel in every context with everyone. Find the people group that you are passionate about reaching, whether it is the homeless of Detroit, the office workers of Amsterdam, or Aborigines in Australia, and then reach them using every fiber of your being. Also, take time to be aware of other opportunities to share the gospel around the globe. Discuss those opportunities with other believers. Even if you don’t personally feel called to reach a group, maybe it will be on someone else’s heart. Flood the world with disciple-making workers.
There is one final lesson that will be saved for the next post. The best way to win a tough war is to take steps to not let it get so tough in the first place.