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"A Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) soldier who exposed himself to enemy fire to save his comrades during a deadly ambush in Afghanistan has been awarded the Victoria Cross at a ceremony in Canberra".

That is the headline in one of the lead stories in today's newspaper. This young corporal was not wounded nor did he die but he displayed a willingness to do so and his courage was rewarded with the highest military honour available in our country.

It got me thinking about the various kinds of death that face our soldiers in combat. There is no glory in any kind of death but there is something inspiring about a death where a person lays down his or her life for his or her friends.  Certainly that was the teaching and example of Jesus.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13  NIV)

He spoke those words not in a classroom but just hours before He would lay down His life for His friends - His disciples.

Then there is death by what is called "friendly fire". This happens more by accident and miscalculation than intentionally.  Mistakes are made. Misinformation is taken as gospel truth. Ignorance leads to wrong decisions (no matter how much sincerity may have been present at the time of the decision) and soldiers die at the hands of their comrades in arms. This is a tragic way to die in combat but it happens. (More on this aspect in part 3 of this article)

There are others from the ranks of our soldiers who have died but their deaths were the result of the most reprehensible form of betrayal. This happens when men who are supposed to be our allies turn their weapons on our troops and murder them. It's one thing to be aware of the enemy "out there"; it's altogether another thing to have the enemy within and not realise his presence or his agenda.

I have long since believed that our world is a battlefield because we are engaged in a spiritual warfare where the forces of good and evil are locked in mortal combat. In that sense, the Church is meant to engage enemy forces and to be involved in establishing the Kingdom Rule of God.

What I am concerned about at this point in our nation's history is the enemy within our culture and communities.  If you like, I am concerned about the "Judas" who gives the appearance of being "one of us", of being "on our side", but who is just waiting the optimum moment to betray us. In this case Judas is not so much a person but an attitude

More about this reality in part 2

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