This phrase “Burn The Ships” comes from a historic conquest of history when, in 1519, Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico on the shores of the Yucatan, with only one objective…seize the great treasures known to be there, hoarded by the Aztecs. You might say that Cortez’s order represented one of the shortest and most effective motivational speeches in history. Yeah, I know, he was a colonizer and an almost white guy who subjugated the proud indigenous Aztecs. More likely, the myriad slaves and future human sacrifices preferred Cortez and the Spaniards, but I digress. This weekend, General Social Survey data revealed that Americans who profess to have “no religion,” 23.1%, now exceed Catholics, our largest religion with 23%, and Evangelicals at 22.5%. And the “nones” have grown by 266% since 1991. SO WHAT?
What is more effective in a war, a 400 pound diabetic with emphysema, or a 90 pound Olympic gymnast? At one time, self professed Christians and Roman Catholics were the majority of citizens in this country, now they are losing ground to the “nones”. I say again, so what? “Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, ‘Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few’.” 1 Samuel 14:6 Jonathan and his armor bearer routed a garrison of philistine soldiers. “And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance.” Judges 7:12. This was the abundance of the army the Israelites were facing. “So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. – Judges 7:8 Judges 7:8. God sent thousands of Israelites back home, except for 300, who routed the Midianite and Amalekite armies. Why did God sent all those soldiers back? The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Judges 7:2
God wants His sons and daughters, His soldiers, to conquer enemy territory by proclaiming the gospel and His kingdom! So what that the western world is losing “professors”, Africa, China, Korea and others are gaining believers faster than we are losing them, but what is the nature of what we are losing, and the nature of those who are growing in Africa and Asia? The losers are flabby, smug and spoiled, the gainers are more taut, seasoned by persecution, in comparative fighting trim. I learned this lesson personally. Years ago I was participating in a six day retreat with 199 others, and we played an abbreviated version of something called The Samurai Game.
The marketing blurb for it says: “Participants in The Samurai Game cross a psychological line and step into the unfamiliar simulated world of the medieval Japanese Samurai. They form two competing samurai armies and engage with their teammates and opponents in symbolic battles that eventually determine the simulation’s finale. These battles call upon participants to exercise resourcefulness, decisiveness, dignity, integrity, respect and personal commitment. The pace is fast and unpredictable, and the outcomes are highly uncertain. No two productions of the simulation are ever quite the same, making each learning experience unique! While involving no significant physical contact, The Samurai Game demands much in the way of centeredness and teamwork. Participants are encouraged to summon forth their ‘warrior’ spirit with courage and determination.”
Our 200 participants were divided into two armies, and we each had to pick our leader, called the daimyo, without speaking a word. I won’t get into details of how my team did this, but I was leader by assent. It felt like a different kind of spirit descended on me, and without any thought I ordered my army to bow as a symbolic gesture of fealty. Those who hesitated, I ordered “executed” immediately, the daimyo having complete power. We began the “battle” down by one third of our troops. I must have been channeling the lessons of Cortez, because the remaining army conquered our opponents with a third of our army left after the contests. Burn the ships left no choice but commitment to victory. While God can certainly conquer this world for His kingdom without human aid, He wants to train us to rule in heaven. The training is Kingdom thinking and spreading the gospel in word and deed. The flabby and spoiled need not apply.