Comrades in a battle

Earlier this year when we commemorated the 65th anniversary of the Normandy landings. One of the striking things, listening to the stories of those involved, was how they looked back on those times with such fondness. Although they faced the horrors of battle, the experience of comradeship and purpose was so intense that those months were the highlight of their lives. Though they involved just a small proportion of their lifetime, those events had defined their lives. They always were veterans of the Normandy campaign.

Today I came across this quote from 1465 from a French Knight called Jean de Brueil. It’s cited in Michael Frost’s book Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture (Hendrickson/Strand, 2006, 117-118 purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US). De Brueil  wrote:

Battle is a joyous thing. We love each other so much in battle. If we see that our cause is just and our kinsmen fight boldly, tears come to our eyes. A sweet joy rises in our hearts, in the feeling of our honest loyalty to each other; and seeing our friend so bravely exposing his body to danger in order to fulfil the commandment of our Creator, we resolve to go forward and die or live with him on account of love. This brings such delight that anyone who has not felt it cannot say how wonderful it is. Do you think someone who feels this is afraid of death? Not in the least! He is so strengthened, so delighted, that he does not know where he is. Truly, he fears nothing in the world.

I think this represents an important dynamic that we need to capture in the church if we are to evangelise and disciple men – a sense of comradeship, of common purpose of battling together.

3 thoughts on “Comrades in a battle

  1. D-Day was sixty-FIVE years ago last month.

    I served in Afghanistan last year. It was a very intense period of my life, but I refuse to let it become an ultimately defining period of my life.

    I’ve seen so may old veterans of previous conflicts grow increasingly bitter with old age as they refuse to move on and live the rest of their lives outside of the experience they had during wartime. Let it shape you, but don’t let it define you. That’s where idolatry creeps in.

  2. Reference your point about “capturing the dynamic: I pulled this out of the journal I kept in Afghanistan last year…

    “I’ll be home in just over three weeks. I feel like I’ve been here an eternity. I’m aching to get home, see my family and reclaim my life again, but there will be things I miss about this place. Certainly the people I’ve been working with. There’s a lot I’ve learned about community here. When you spend 18 waking hours a day living in the pockets of fifty other people for months on end without a day off you develop a keen sense of what’s important and what is a petty, time-wasting distraction. Sharing a unity of purpose (with life and death implications for even the most basic decisions) mitigates self-centredness and pettiness. Why should a church community be any different? Surely we have a unity of purpose, and our message is all about life and death decisions. Yet we let ourselves get swamped by pettiness (often disguised as championing doctrinal purity) and distracted by materialism and self-centredness. And I’m just as guilty of thee things as anyone else.”

  3. Thanks for this comment. Very interesting. (And thanks for the corrections in your previous comment – I’ve updated the post.) God bless, Tim

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