Spiritual Warfare in a Peace-Loving World

For whatever reason I seem to have found myself in a season of significant spiritual warfare. The battle revolves – for me – around the issue of intimacy. Though I desire true intimacy with God I am inept at finding it much of the time. I don’t doubt my salvation experience or my growth in sanctification, but I am often fighting to recognize the presence of God in the moment by moment and day by day challenges of life.
So, learning to do battle involves several issues:
a). deeper dependence on His Word.
Paul described the Bible (for him it was the OT) as the “sword of the Spirit.” A sword is both an offensive and defensive weapon. The Word has been granted to us to use as our primary weapon against the false teaching that threatens to overwhelm us and it is the tool we use to shield ourselves from the false teaching. For me this means a regular and systematic plan of Bible reading and a daily foray into the Psalms.
b). rekindling a vision of the kingdom of God.
Spiritual warfare is not primarily about how an individual feels on given day but about how our lives fit into the thrust of God’s kingdom into the world. My guess is that if you had asked the average US soldier, airman, Marine or seaman how they felt every day during WW II they could have given a long list of reasons why they weren’t well prepared for battle. However, putting their personal feelings aside they gave themselves fully and completely for their buddy in the next foxhole, in the next plane, their shipmate knowing that their unit was part of something much larger than they could envision. I think we have lost sight – as pastor’s and churches – of our role in kingdom building. Satan has defeated us by changing our focus to individual wins and losses instead of kingdom advances.
c). learning to lean on others.
God did not intend us to do battle as lone warriors. Here in the western US we have adopted a lone warrior approach to life in general. Our heroes tend to be men/women who battled overwhelming odds and thrived as self-made people. This may help explain the rise of the non-denominational church movement in the western US. Self-made churches, self-made church-planters celebrating their independence from ‘systems’ that they interpret as stifling and counterproductive.
But warfare is not simply pushing buttons from a well-built fortress. My struggle for intimacy with God leads me to seek Him not just in the comfort of my study but in the systems and challenges of our community – among those who are believers and among non-believers as well.
d).looking for time to pray.
Finding time to pray does not come naturally to me. Creating blocks of time for prayer and reflection are not part of my typical strategy. I’d rather schedule meetings and develop strategies for tackling problems head on. I’d rather invest in capacity building movements, leveraging social capital for collective impact. But spiritual battle requires spiritual tools and prayer – constant and consistent communication with God is crucial.
Finally, I am convinced that far too often I completely miss the significance of the daily warfare going around me. In reading (slowly) Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age I am becoming aware of just how the world in which I live has been disenfranchised from the rich and varied world God has created. So I continue to rely on the words of the Apostle Paul:
Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh.
2 Corinthians 4:7-11


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