Sunday, August 05, 2007

It's war

Friday night I stayed up way too late watching "We Were Soldiers," a movie about a battle between US soldiers and the North Vietnamese in 1965. Mel Gibson starred as the army commander who led his very young and badly outnumbered soldiers against the very cunning and much larger North Vietnamese army. The engagement had all the makings to end up as a massacre of the US troops. Against all odds, Mel and his boys managed to pull out a victory of sorts, but not without intense warfare and huge loss.

I dislike war movies. They unsettle and disturb me. If any part of their depiction is remotely realistic, then war is definitely, well, you-know-what. It is brutal. It is messy. It is fierce. It is relentless. There is much at stake. And people die.

The movie offered a striking parallel to the spiritual battle that wages around us. We who belong to Christ are in the middle of a war and the stakes are no less critical. Like Mel and his GIs in the movie, we are up against an enemy that is cunning and smart, an enemy that seeks to outwit and outflank us, an enemy who wants to destroy us.

If I've said it once in the course of teaching Bible study, I've said it thousands of times: we may be halfhearted in our fight against the enemy, but he is never halfhearted in his schemes against us. Never. He is like a lion, seeking to steal, kill, and destroy.

I may have said it thousands of times, but somehow I forgot. I grew lazy spiritually. I neglected my spiritual armor. I laid down my sword, just for a day and then maybe two, and then it stretched to a week or so. I didn't really mean to; I just grew distracted and in my distraction forgot to keep watch and be sober minded and vigilant.

That is, until suddenly I was hit broadside, discovering my enemy had creeped up unawares, chipping away until he gained a foothold, and just like that, he was in, making sure he hit me right where it hurt.

Too often in quest for maximum comfort and minimal conflict, we tend to underestimate the influence of the enemy, or even worse, view him as some sort of cartoon character with no real power. If I mind my business, keep my head down and do the best I can, then surely he will leave me alone. At least that's our reasoning.

Wrong.

I am not trying to be over-dramatic nor alarmist in any way. Certainly our concern for spiritual warfare can easily become an obsession and that kind of misguided zeal is not what I am advocating here. But this we must know--we MUST know--that the battle is real and our enemy is after us and it is time we become smart to his schemes and stand up against him.

My favorite Sunday school teacher taught today on the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6, a passage I have been meditating on all week in the wake of the battle in which we are now engaged. Paul offers several imperatives for us as we fight the good fight of faith:
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God.
Stand firm.
Take up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
Pray.
Be alert and keep on praying.
Our enemy is real, no doubt about it. The battle is here. It is in our churches. It is in our homes. The stakes are high and eternity weighs in the balance. But praise God, He has not left us defenseless. We have armor. We have a shield. We have a weapon. And we have a Commander who is victorious, always leading us in triumphal procession in Christ.

Let's be smart. Let's be diligent. Let's never underestimate the determination of our enemy to destroy us. Let's be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Let's stand firm in the faith, wielding the mighty sword of the Spirit, the living Word of God. Let's believe God as we raise our shield of faith, knowing He holds the victory and there is no darkness He cannot overcome.

Life is war for we who follow Christ. Rise up, mighty warrior; your enemy may crouch at the door, but your God, the Lord of hosts, fights on your behalf and will deliver you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm!

14 comments:

  1. This is such a powerful post. I really needed this reminder today. I tend to get spiritually lazy too. I don't mean to be, it just seems to happen. I need to be more alert and aware. Thanks so much for a beautiful reminder.
    Lisa

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  2. I get spiritually lazy as well. I think " I can do it tomorrow". Well, as tomorrow comes and goes, it gets so much easier to put it off another day.

    Thank you for this wonderful post!

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  3. Great post. I have plans to send my readers over here to this one! :)

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  4. A verse in our sermon today was Rom 8:37, that in this war Christ makes us more than conquerors. To His name be the glory! Powerful thoughts to provoke and stir us up from apathy.

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  5. What a very timely reminder! I have been fighting a spiritual battle as well. They say the biggest lie of Satan is that he is not real. I know very well how real he is and how diligent we must always be. Blessings, Lisa

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  6. Our sermon today covered Romans 8:37 also.(elle) Seems like the Holy Spirit is teaching along this theme right now in at least a couple churches and blogs. I am always excited to see that. I'm ready to go to battle beside you!

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  7. I so want to be a warrior and do battle.

    This was a great post!

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  8. I don't think you CAN be over-dramatic or an alarmist when it comes to this subject...this is serious stuff! I had the boys memorize Eph 6:10-18 a few years ago. We HAVE to be on our guard! Thanks for posting this, it was a great way to start my day!

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  9. Thank you for another incredible post. It hit home.

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  10. Such a good exhortation to remain diligent! I needed to hear this, too.

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  11. AMEN, sister!!! Wow, did my heart ever need that encouragement! I'm in the middle of "feeling" the war, and feeling the battle in my heart with circumstances surrounding us. I'm continually faced in these recent days with the temptation to choose this world and ease and comfort! BUT GOD continues to lavish His grace, and in my weakness He is strong, and in my unfaithfulness, He is faithful!

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  12. Thank you for this entry. You are so right our enemy is a liar, but he's also visious and cunning. He'll stoop to any length to come between me and my relationship w/Jesus.

    It is up to me to keep that relationship connected. Jesus will fight the battle, I already know He's won the war, but only if I stay focused on Him.

    Thanks for the reminder.

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  13. Such a good exhortation to remain diligent! I needed to hear this, too.

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  14. A verse in our sermon today was Rom 8:37, that in this war Christ makes us more than conquerors. To His name be the glory! Powerful thoughts to provoke and stir us up from apathy.

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