These passing months of worldwide lockdown has been a time of fear and uncertainty for many. People the world over have been forced to put their lives on hold in an unprecedented way. Some have had to face the loss of loved ones or even their livelihood and all they’ve worked to establish. In a busy world of bustling societies, many have had to face the deafening roar of silence as their lives have come to a complete halt.
It’s times like this that can make us to face the real state of our own hearts and lives without having the noise and trappings of the world to distract us. Even so, some of us have tried to keep ourselves preoccupied with entertainment, or with the many avenues of escapism or even hidden vices.
Some of us may have found ourselves reminiscing, possibly even reevaluating, what we’ve been spending our time and lives on now that we’ve been forced to come up for air. Now is a good time to ask ourselves; when all is said and done, what’s really important in this life?
Back in high school English, I remember we were asked to choose a portion of one of William Shakespeare's plays to recite to the class. I chose what is known as the ‘Saint Crispin’s Day Speech’ from the play; ‘Henry V’, where at the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, Henry the Fifth the king of England, and his men, exhausted and vastly outnumbered, were preparing to fight against an army of French knights. The odds were stacked against them and their morale was shattered. It was a time of great fear and uncertainty.
I remember giving the speech feeling as if I were Henry the Fifth himself, emboldening my men for battle with this passionate and inspirational speech. One line that stood out to me; “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother”.
Although the speech itself was penned by Shakespeare some two hundred years later, the Battle of Agincourt and the facts surrounding it were very real indeed and took place in the year 1415. And in that battle Henry and his “brothers” went on to win a momentous victory at Agincourt that has been immortalised by The Bard to this day..
That a king would not only fight side-by-side with his men in the thick of the battle but proclaim that those who bled with him would be to him a brother is a very striking and stirring ideal indeed. One that struck a chord with this impressionable young man who recited the Saint Crispin’s Day speech some five hundred years after it was written.
A different brotherhood
Fifteen hundred years before the play was written, a different King, who did battle on a very different type of battlefield also gave a very real and striking speech and command to His men. Men who He also declared to be His brothers;
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew chapter 28 verses 18-20)
He sent them out into battle in His total and indisputable authority into the whole world to in turn make more disciples, more brothers and sisters and to teach them to see and do everything that Jesus Himself had commanded the original twelve.
When I consider what it means to be a ‘Christian today’, right now in 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic that has shaken the world, I wonder what speech the truest King would give to his brothers. And when I look, I find the answer here right in front of me. Inside of me even.
Just as “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever”, if He were here right now, standing before us to give us a rousing speech, the words that we need to hear in the face of this battle, I believe would be the very same thing that He said some two thousand years ago. Because being a ‘Christian today’ is in truth the same as it was in the beginning and the same as it should be until the very end. The same King is still enthroned and the strategy and game plan has not changed and therefore neither should we.
So I ask you this question today; is there oil in your lamp? Is the love, light and presence of the Holy Spirit burning inside of you? Are you keeping your wick “trimmed” of all that is spent and excess to ensure that your light burns bright and clean for all to see?
Because one day whether it be soon or afar off, the King will return and I pray, that when He does truly He finds faith in me, and He finds that I have been a good and faithful witness, a true brother indeed.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew chapter 5 verse 16)
Josh Wood is an ordained minister and has been teaching and preaching around the world for the last ten years. He lives on the Gold Coast, Australia with his beautiful wife and their two beloved sons. He is also an avid fiction writer working on the first draft of a Christian fantasy novel, having also previously worked in the film and TV industries. You can check out his website woodfamilyministries.com for information about his ministry.