From time to time I receive criticisms for using ‘warrior’ terminology in Heart of a Warrior Ministries. I recently felt compelled to respond to a person’s concerns over my use of such terms. I thought it might be helpful to present my rationale.
The New Testament is full of metaphors and allegories associated with military and warfare symbolism. The Lord is referred to as a "warrior" by Moses in Exodus 15:1-3. Jeremiah also suggests the same in Jeremiah 20:11.
"I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name." NIV
Revelation 19:11-16 and Isaiah 42:13 certainly implies similar symbolism...
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:11-16
The LORD will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies. Isaiah 42:13
The New Testament speaks about spiritual warfare, that we must put on the 'armor' of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Preliminary to the verses on putting on the armor of God is the admonition to be strong in the Lord...put on the full armor of God so we can make a stand...that we are in a struggle.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. NIV
Paul himself says he has 'fought the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7).' Several places in the NT we are encouraged to 'fight the good fight (1 Timothy 1:18; 6:12).'
I am not advocating that men strap on a sword and press headlong into physical combat. Instead, I use the metaphor of a "warrior' to call men to the battle for the sake of their loved ones, the unloved, the marginalized, the defenseless, the downtrodden. I call men to take their assignment to be the spiritual leaders of their home. I use the 'sword' as a symbol for engagement because too many men have abdicated their responsibilities to their families, friends, associates, and those who don't know Christ.
I have often used the phrase, "a warrior after God's heart." I have clearly defined what I mean by being a warrior after God's heart...
1. A warrior after God’s heart is loyal to his Commander.
2. A warrior after God’s heart is a citizen of God’s kingdom.
3. A warrior after God’s heart follows orders.
4. A warrior after God’s heart prepares for the battle.
5. A Warrior after God’s heart guards his heart.
6. A warrior after God’s heart is a man of integrity.
7. A warrior after God’s heart is a man of authenticity.
8. A warrior after God’s heart lays his life on the line.
9. A warrior after God’s heart rises to the challenge.
10. A warrior after God’s heart makes a stand.
11. A warrior after God’s heart provides for his loved ones.
12. A warrior after God’s heart finishes well.
Other passages underscore Paul’s repeated use of ‘soldier’ when referring to his trusted co-workers. He calls Epaphroditus and Archippus a ‘fellow soldier.’ He exhorts Timothy to ‘endure hardship…like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.’
Philippians 2:25-26 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.
2 Timothy 2:3-7 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
Philemon 1-3 To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In summary, I do not apologize for my use of these symbols and images designed to compel men to action and help them live a life committed to God's redemptive purposes. I will continue to call men to the battle, to take a stand against the evil one, to embrace their obligations and responsibilities to be spiritual leaders, to lean into their fear and stand in bold relief ready to give a defense for the hope that is in them. I will continue to urge men to prepare for the skirmishes they will undoubtedly encounter, to put on the full armor of God, to fight he good fight, to acquit themselves with integrity and honor on the battlefield of life. If the sensibilities of some are put off by such exhortations and they are uncomfortable with such terminology, then they will have to remove large sections from the Bible to assuage their concerns.
As for me and my house, we will not retreat from rallying men to stand and deliver!