Am I a soldier of the cross,
a follower of the Lamb,
and shall I fear to own his cause,
or blush to speak his name?
Must I be carried to the skies
on flowery beds of ease,
while others fought to win the prize,
and sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
to help me on to God?
Sure I must fight, if I would reign;
increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
supported by thy word.
Thy saints in all this glorious war
shall conquer though they die;
they see the triumph from afar,
by faith they bring it nigh.
When that illustrious day shall rise,
and all thy armies shine
in robes of victory through the skies,
the glory shall be thine.
Text: Isaac Watts
License: Public Domain
Isaac Watts lived in the 17th century in England, yet the words of this hymn strike a resonant chord with any Christian in the 21st century in the USA. The very first verse, for example, asks if I am willing to pay the price of standing firm in my faith and speaking or writing or singing the name of Jesus in the face of cultural pressure to be silent. Think of three instances in the past week when one or more Christians in the USA were asked to stop acting like Christians or ridiculed for refusing to stop.
Secular thinkers scorn the whole idea of heaven, because they scorn anything that is not part of the time/space continuum. They accuse Christians of doing worthless things in order to earn a heavenly reward. What two things are wrong with that accusation? Why do secular thinkers accuse Christians of things that are not part of Christian faith? Where do they get those ideas?
“Blending in” or “fitting in” are important principles of behavior for secular thinkers. On the one hand, each person is to find his own truth, but on the other hand, no person should, by his difference from others, appear to be judging the truth chosen by others. What does the hymn writer ask that expresses the dilemma of the Christian in a secular world?
How does the hymn writer expect to become strong enough and wise enough to stand firm?
What does he expect will be the outcome of his determination?