QUESTION: Why does Jews for Jesus call its tract-passing expeditions sorties”? Isn’t that a military term? It seems to me that as God’s people, Christians should be peaceable. After all, Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the sons of God.”
ANSWER: You are correct in both statements. God does want us to be peacemakers, and “sortie” is military parlance. Webster defines sortie as “a sudden issuing of troops from a defensive position against the enemy” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc. 1985). Recently we have heard the term “sortie” a great deal in news reports about the Persian Gulf conflict.
We Jews for Jesus want to be peacemakers for God, but we call our broadsiding expeditions “sorties” for good reason. In a sortie we go out “armed” with gospel tracts to downtown areas, college campuses, beaches or parks where large numbers of people congregate. The sortie is a venturing forth into a non-Christian environment. In handing out broadsides—pamphlets that proclaim the Good News of Jesus—we go out against the real enemy, Satan. In effect, we invade his “kingdom” with the message of the gospel of Jesus.
While God does want us to be peacemakers between people, the Christian life entails a constant state of war against Satan. The Apostle Paul, writing in the Spirit to the church at Ephesus (Eph. 6:11-17), made this quite clear. God does not intend that we make peace with Satan, his archenemy and ours. The whole armor of God equips us to engage in both defensive and offensive warfare against the spiritual forces of evil that enslave this planet and keep people from knowing and serving God. Proclaiming the gospel of peace (see verse 15) is the road to being the kind of peacemakers that God wants us to be.
In Matthew 16:18 Yeshua told Peter, “…upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades [hell] shall not prevail against it.” Gates are stationary. They can imprison, but they cannot move. If we are to win the battle for souls, the Church (the body of believers in Christ) must venture forth in the Spirit with the sword of the Word to assault Satan’s strongholds.