This World: Battlefield or Playground?

I recently read The Best of A.W. Tozer. There was one chapter that stuck out to me. It was simply titled, “This World: Playground or Battlefield?” 

Although only three pages, it asks a profound question about how we each approach the life we have been given on earth: Do we view the world as our permanent home or as a temporary residence?

In his book, Tozer describes the misconception that “Men think of the world not as a battlefield, but as a playground. We are not here to fight, we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land, we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, we are already living and the best we can do is to rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full.

For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

The Apostle Paul

In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  This has always seemed to be a very hard concept for me to grasp. 

We live in a culture that is all about the here and now. We are focused on immediate success and satisfaction. How could dying be gain? 

This verse gives each of us a deeper understanding of how Paul viewed this world: temporary and fleeting.  He saw his home as being beyond this life. Many early and modern church leaders today in countries around the world share Paul’s viewpoint.

Yet, somehow in the American church, we have missed this part of the Gospel message all together.  We have turned this world into our home and have made comfort and ease the greatest priorities of the Christian life.

Paul did not view death as something to be feared, rather he saw it as gain because he had absolute confidence that he would depart and be with Christ. 

Take up your cross and follow me.

Jesus Christ

One of the greatest challenges of parenting in American culture today is that we have bought into the idea that this world is a playground. 

We have exchanged the hard teachings of the Gospel with the cultural prioritization of seeking a comfortable life now.  As parents we have made our highest priority protecting our children at all costs instead of modeling and teaching them what it means to follow Christ each day. 

When Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow meHe was making an emphatic statement about what it would cost each individual to follow Him. 

Jesus made it crystal clear that in this life Christians will encounter trials of all kinds, but that His Spirit would be with each Christian for each moment. 

The greatest joy for believers should be being in the presence of God. And it is often in our greatest trials that we sense the fullness of God’s presence with us. 

Paul constantly exhorted the early believers to put on the “armor of God.”  A soldier does not put on armor if he is not going out to war. 

God makes it abundantly clear that life on this earth is like a battlefield.  As Christians, we are called put on the armor of God as we enter each day. 

Many parents’ greatest mistake is living like we are on a playground, and furthermore raising our children to believe that all of life is a playground. 

The spiritual battlefield we live in is real and it is dangerous.  The greatest mistake we can make for ourselves is to forget the reality of the world we live in.  The even greater mistake we so often make for our children is not fully preparing them for the battle they will face each day. 

As a parent, is your greatest priority keeping your kids safe, or is your greatest priority teaching your kids to follow Christ? 

When I was much younger and played competitive sports, I found that practice was a necessary evil.  I never really enjoyed practice, but I found value in it because it prepared me for the upcoming games. As I think about that reality from my teenage years, I find a very real parallel to the Christian life. 

For many Christian parents, we constantly teach our children biblical truths without putting them into positions that truly stretch their faith. 

We want our students in church, Bible studies and youth groups, but we don’t often take them to places where they have the opportunity to put their faith into action. We become nervous about their safety when we consider serving at homeless shelters, sharing the Gospel with strangers and traveling to other countries on mission trips. 

It is as if we are constantly having them practice the Christian faith with no game in sight.  The end result is so often students are left with one word to describe their Christian walk…BORING. 

The call of Jesus Christ to follow Him is the farthest thing from boring.  A Christian life lived out is full of excitement, passion and impact.   

Parents, this world is a battlefield, period. We are not here
to frolic, we are here to fight!

Doug Langhals, HHCA Head of School

The biblical picture on this is very clear. We must not lose sight of this for ourselves, and we certainly must not mislead our children. 

This is a radically different perspective than what is presented in our culture, and to be honest, in many churches today.  However, this is the only perspective that is presented in the Bible. 

If your children were asked the following question about you as a parent, how would they answer: Is this world your playground to be enjoyed or is this world God’s battlefield to be conquered? 

It all starts with us as parents. Our children need to see our faith in action, and we need to be committed to training them up for the battle. 

Post Author, Doug Langhals
Doug Langhals
HHCA, Head of School

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