Re-Focus: The Role of the Church in Spiritual Warfare

October 31, 2016

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven…And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Revelation 12:7-8, 11

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

boys-and-swords

I remember playing “soldier” when I was a little boy. My friends and I would make up battlefield scenarios and spend hours and hours playing them out. We pretended to be sentries and infantrymen, and pilots and marines. We pretended to fire guns and swing swords and throw grenades. We crawled on our bellies and climbed trees and ran and hid. We manned pretend prison camps and planned ambushes. But you know what we never did? We never pretended to be communications officers whose job it was to communicate but who rarely ever actually “fought”. We never pretended to be the guy running BEHIND the other soldiers, carrying all the communications equipment but rarely ever firing a cannon. Honestly, that job just didn’t have the swagger we were looking for in our little boy minds.

Maybe that’s why we have such a hard time now, as adult Christ-followers, accepting our primary role in the spiritual warfare to which we are called. Make no mistake, the most terrifying war going on around us today is taking place in the “heavenly realms”, i.e., the unseen spiritual world around us. Revelation 12 describes a war in “heaven” between Michael (and the other angels) and satan (and his demons). Notice who is doing the actual fighting. And notice in that same chapter that the war is eventually won “by the blood of the lamb” and by the work of the communications officers (“by the word of [the witnesses’] testimony”). Notice also Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 6 regarding spiritual warfare…see how many times he describes our role as being “to stand”…NOT to attack or the fight…just to stand. Take heed of the Psalmist’s warning in Psalm 20:7…as God’s people, our hope is NOT in the things of this world.

Clearly, spiritual warfare works differently than the world’s warfare. Clearly, our roles in the ongoing battle between good and evil have little to do with arms escalations or governmental power or political victories. As the church, we have been given clearly defined roles in terms of prayer, ministering to the needs of others, and making disciples. Those are our roles. While spiritual soldiers (angels) much more equipped than we are do the actual fighting, our role is being communications officers. We are responsible for praying and serving others and bearing witness to Jesus.

Conflict, whether it be the culture wars in social media or the political wars during seasons like this, has a way of bringing out the child in us…the child who wants to be the conquering gladiator who wills his/her way to victory by brute force. When we fight the way the world fights, we give the impression that our hope is in chariots or horses or governments or courts. We treat presidential elections as if our vote (and our influence of everyone else’s vote) is the very best we can do to change our world. We, as Christ followers, get so caught up in the culture of conflict, that we conform to the ways of this world and actually begin to believe that is our role in this war.

In the meantime, while we try to play the more glorious part of the combatant, nobody is left to play our part. Testimonies are left unspoken, hurting people are left unserved, and genuine heart-felt prayers are left unprayed.

I believe we can do better. I believe we can refocus and get back to doing our part in this war. In fact, John’s Revelation assures us it will happen. I suppose the only question for each of us is whether we will be called “good and faithful servants” for having played the correct part.

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2 thoughts on “Re-Focus: The Role of the Church in Spiritual Warfare

  1. Tony

    Great article. I could not have written it better. I really hate election seasons. We really do get way to caught up in the ways of the world.

    Reply

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