A Lesson From Gettysburg

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By Scott Stake

Last week, our family had the wonderful opportunity to visit Gettysburg, site of one of the most important battles in our American history. For four hours, we read and heard of the heroic efforts of so many men dedicated to fighting for freedom as we walked along the battlefield. The abolition of slavery, the preservation of the Union, the rights of citizens, and the future of our country hung in the balance at this strategic location.

Under the leadership of Robert E Lee, the Confederate Army was gaining momentum and ready to obtain strategic ground in the North. But the Union, under direction of Maj. Gen. George Meade, sought to hold firm. The first day of fighting was brutal, with thousands of casualties. While the assault from the Confederates was relentless, the Union still held the high ground. The second day was just as intense, and as sunset drew near, the Confederates saw a gap in the Union line. This was their chance!

At the extreme left of the Union line was Little Round Top, a rocky, mostly bald eminence on one side that rose 650 feet. General Warren, chief engineer of the army, saw the vital position uncovered and sent for help, scrambling for anyone to hold the hill. One of his couriers ran into Colonel Strong Vincent, halted at the front of the First Division.

"Where is General Barnes?" the courier asked.
"What are your orders!" was Vincent's terse reply.
"General Warren wants someone to occupy yonder hill."
"I will do so and take the responsibility."

Bypassing the protocol in not waiting for formal orders, Vincent quickly gave command of the brigade to senior colonel James Rice and rushed to the hill accompanied by his flag bearer. As the Confederates skirmished up the hill, Vincent, on top of a large boulder, cried out to his men: "Don't give an inch!" As he uttered these words, a bullet tore through his thigh and groin, and he fell from the rock. But with reinforcements sent in by Warren, Vincent's line held. By the next evening, the battle was over, with the Union holding their ground. Though Colonel Vincent would die a few days later (and countless others with him), his actions on Little Round Top are credited with helping save the Union. He stood in the gap!

In the same way, we Christians are called to stand in the gap between God's promise that all nations will be reached with the gospel and the fulfillment of it. David Bryant, in his excellent book In The Gap, writes these words:

By now it should be obvious that all Christians are born again into the Gap between God’s worldwide purpose and the fulfillment of it. But there’s more than one kind of response to that Gap. Some are asleep, some are on retreat, and some are determined to stand in the Gap particularly at its widest end where billions await the opportunity to hear of Christ for the first time.

What shall we call this distinct group of Christians who have taken this stand? For a moment, let’s call them “World Christians.” A World Christian isn’t better than other Christians. But by God’s grace, he has made a discovery so important that life can never be the same again. He has discovered the truth about the Gap, the fact that he is already in it, and the call of Christ to believe, think, plan, and act accordingly. By faith he has chosen to stand in the Gap as a result.

Some World Christians are missionaries who stand in the Gap by physically crossing major human barriers (cultural, political, etc.) to bring the Gospel to those who can hear no other way. But every Christian is meant to be a World Christian, whether you physically “go”, or stay at home to provide the sacrificial love, prayers, training, money, and quality of corporate life that backs the witness of those who “go”. World Christians are day-to-day disciples for whom Christ’s global cause has become the integrating, overriding priority for all that life is for them.

Four Oaks, I want to thank you for your integral role in serving as World Christians—for standing in the gap through your sacrificial love, gifts, prayers, encouragement, and support. And as we send out more gospel partners later this summer, my hope is that we would continue to heed what the apostle John calls us to in his letter:

“You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” – 3 John 1:6b-8

Here are a few things to put on your radar as we seek to be “World Christians” at Four Oaks.

  1. An Evening in Thailand on Sunday, July 31, at 5pm at Killearn. Come hear from our partners who are taking the gospel to the Isaan people. Click here to RSVP.
  2. Commissioning on Sunday, August 14, at Midtown. Pray for our gospel partner as we commission her to Asia during both services.
  3. Weekend mission trip to Atlanta on Oct 20-23. Receive biblical training and cultural & religious exposure and work with international refugees. Click here.
  4. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Course in Spring 2017. Keep an eye out for this 15-week course we’re launching that takes a deep-dive into what it means to be a World Christian. Click here for more info.