Reading 1 Samuel 13:19-23 this morning caused me to ask if the church has been disarmed by the world through becoming too dependent on the world.
19 Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears”; 20 but every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle; 21 and the charge was a pim for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. 22 So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. 23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.
Evidently the Israelites had allowed themselves to lose all their own blacksmiths to the Philistines. Now they had become accustomed to depending on the Philistines for sharpening all their tools.
This had not seemed a problem in peacetime. All seemed well. But in wartime there were no weapons and the Philistines had, in effect, disarmed the people of God because Israel had come to depend on them for all their sharpening.
Is this a picture of the church’s dependence on the world in many ways? Some are perhaps innocent enough—like sewer and water and light and a lot of other shared services and commodities. But the weapons of our warfare are not like that. The issue is truth and values.
Has the church become dependent on the world for the sharpening of the mind and the spirit? Which in fact only looks like a sharpening if we see life as a time of peace. But it is really a dulling and a disarming if we look at life as a time of spiritual warfare for the minds and hearts of men.
We have come to depend on the world for most of our education and most of our leisure and entertainment and most of the interpretation of the news and events of the world. In doing so I wonder if there are any weapons left?
It raises for me the question of schooling for God’s people. And all the dimensions of information and opinion and entertainment and advertisement that shape our minds. How shall we have ourselves well-armed if the Philistines have taken all the blacksmiths and made us depend on them to sharpen all our weapons?