From Bunkers to Beachheads…
From Bunkers to Beachheads - Understanding Jesus' 'All Authority'

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Jesus

Those aren’t just words. They’re marching orders.

When Jesus left his followers, he left them with a mission. He left us with a mission.

But how many of us take it seriously? Do we wake up in the morning thinking about it? Or lose sleep over it? Do we care as much about this mission as we do about our jobs? Our politics? Our entertainment?

For too long, we’ve memorized the words but failed to act on them. We’ve hung up banners emblazoned with the verses but never bothered to consider what they actually mean for us. We’ve turned Jesus’ final command into little more than a platitude.

And in doing so, we’ve turned the Church from a beachhead to a bunker.

King Jesus and His Army

Near the end of John’s Revelation vision, he records seeing the forces of darkness coming against Jesus with one final onslaught. But their attempt is futile. Listen to what he says: “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:14 NASB).

Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, overcomes all who stand against him. It doesn’t matter how numerous or powerful they may seem. He has the final say. And what’s more, he has a whole army with him. John writes that “those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” If you’re a Christian – if you’ve given Jesus your faith and faithfulness – then that number includes you.

And so, we stand victorious with King Jesus. Though that doesn’t mean the enemy has given up.

Satan will continue to kick and scream, pulling everyone down with him that he possibly can, until that final day when all things will be made new.

And until then we have a mission.

The Authority of the King

But Jesus didn’t just tell his disciples, “Go, accomplish my mission.” He began by saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

This authority was on full display in the gospel accounts where Jesus heals the sick, casts out demons, calms storms, walks on water, multiplies the loaves, turns the water into wine, raises the dead, reads minds, forgives sins, and ultimately, rises from the dead himself. There’s nothing Jesus can’t do – because he holds all authority.

And the even more remarkable thing is that he gives his people that authority. Matthew records that when Jesus sent his twelve disciples out to share the gospel, he “gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (Matthew 10:1). And this point is further strengthened in Jesus’ final words – the words I started this post with.

He begins by saying, “All authority has been given to Me…” and he ends with this encouragement: “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

If both of these things are true, then we have an incredible reason to be bold. If Jesus really is with us no matter what, when, or where we are, and if he has all authority in creation, then what do we have to fear? Jesus has authority over people, over governments, over sickness, over demons, and even over death itself.

This reality is the reason that Christian martyrs all over the world have been able to face death with peace. They believe these twin truths: Jesus has authority over all things and Jesus is with us.

The ‘Bunker’ Mentality

Too many Christians live with a ‘bunker’ mentality. They’ve hunkered down in their churches, clutching their Bibles and hymnals for dear life. They occasionally peek out the window – but only long enough to note how bad things have gotten in the world. Their knees knock at the thought of meeting the very people Jesus most closely associated with – sinners, drunks, and IRS agents.

They don’t look or sound like people who are walking with the King of all creation.

This ‘bunker’ mentality has infected far too many Christians and even churches. It’s a way of thinking that leaves us looking at everyone who isn’t exactly like us with suspicion and hostility. It creates paranoia and fear. And once this mentality has fully set, it keeps us from experimenting and trying new things. It pours concrete on everything we do, setting it in stone until it’s either covered in moss or destroyed.

This ‘bunker’ way of thinking puts us on the defensive. But we’re supposed to be playing offense.

What would happen if an army – or even a football team – only worried about defense? No one wins ballgames or battles by thinking purely in defensive terms.

The Difference Between ‘Bunkers’ and ‘Beachheads’

When the Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy during World War II, they didn’t set up bunkers. They didn’t build nice, solid structures where they could relax and enjoy one another’s company. They set up temporary defensive lines – beachheads – that would hold until they could amass a large enough force to press the battle forward.

Bunkers are primarily defensive structures. They’re built to hold a line against invaders. Beachheads are offensive. Yes, they provide defense for a time – but they’re never meant to be permanent. They’re jumping-off points.

For at least a generation, much of the Church in America has been developing a ‘bunker’ mentality. We’ve built our churches, established our traditions, and waited for people to join us down in the safety of our religious bunkers.

And it hasn’t worked.

Like armies and football teams, the Church can’t advance when we’re focused solely on defense – on protecting our traditions, our preferences, our “purity” – our whatever.

Shifting to a ‘Beachhead’ Mentality

Our mentality needs to shift. We need to drop the bunker mentality. We need to quit worrying so much about defense and protection. Jesus is with us. And he has all authority in heaven and on earth. If we can make this shift, then maybe – just maybe – we can begin accomplishing the task that he gave us of making disciples by baptizing them and teaching them everything he’s taught us.

The question is, how do we make the shift from a ‘bunker’ to a ‘beachhead’ mentality?

Listen to our Commander

Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” But too often we don’t live like it because we’re unaware of his presence. Going to church once or twice a week and saying a quick prayer before bed simply won’t cut it. If we aren’t purposely living in his presence, we likely won’t feel like he’s with us. We won’t sense his authority. And we will inevitably slip into a ‘bunker’ mentality.

We need to actively listen for his voice by engaging deeply with his words and developing a conversational prayer life. And like any relationship, this takes hard work. It takes commitment and it takes time.

Reading. Studying. Memorizing. Praying. Fasting. Meditating. All of these things – and more – are essential parts of the Christian life. They connect us to our Creator and King. And they will increase our confidence in his presence and authority in our lives.

Follow the Spirit

If the Spirit never asks you to do anything uncomfortable, you probably aren’t listening to him. God’s Spirit is active. He leads us to new places. He brings people into our lives who need the Gospel. His goal is the coming of God’s Kingdom to every man, woman, boy, and girl. And that’s the direction that he will consistently lead us.

There was nothing comfortable about the Invasion of Normandy. Soldiers faced explosions, screaming bullets, and death itself. But they followed their commanders because there was a mission worth accomplishing. Lives were at stake and freedom itself was on the line.

The Spirit of God is leading us to storm the Kingdom of Darkness. We have a battle before us. The question is, will we follow him?

On a practical level, I have to say that following the Spirit in small things is easier than big things. So start there. If he prompts you to ask your waitress, “Sounds like you’re having a tough day, how can I pray for you?” Then do it. If you sense that he’s leading you to speak to that homeless person or call that person that you need to forgive or set aside time to read scripture, let him have his way. Begin with small things and he will continually lead you to bigger ones.

Let Each Day Bring New Mercies

As you follow the Spirit, you will almost certainly make mistakes. You will say the wrong thing. You’ll end up in awkward situations. It won’t always go the way you planned. And that’s okay.

Faithfulness is better than ‘perfection’ – largely because we can’t achieve that kind of perfection. Like riding a bike, you just have to get on and ride. Yes, you’ll end up with some skinned knees and maybe even some broken bones. But you’ll never get anywhere if you spend your time staring at your bike – dreaming of how great riding would be or remembering what it was like back when everyone rode or wishing you could just have a car instead of a bicycle.

So listen closely to Jesus and follow closely behind his Spirit. And when you fall, let the Father pick you up, brush you off, and set you back in the saddle. For, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is [His] faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

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Yvonne
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Yvonne

Welcome back! And such a good reminder to start the New Year. I don’t know why I find it so hard to vocally share the gospel. His mercies ARE new every morning…

Joe Southwick
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Joe Southwick

Outstanding article! Thanks for writing this—it captures perfectly the mentality that Jesus and the Bible gives from Genesis to Revelation which is a conquering mentality. “Go and make disciples or go and take possession! (deut 1:8 ) until all the land is conquered. It is a fighting and victorious Spirit. Augustine, Athanasisus (The Father of orthodoxy), Eusebius (the father of church history), Calvin, and most of the Puritans believed is what is called Post Millenialism which essentially (in most simple terms) believes that the Great Commision WILL be fulfilled! It is an optimistic and rugged theology that build America out… Read more »

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