By Brock Bondurant
Ephesians 6:11-13 – 11Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For 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. 13Therefore 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.
There’s a war going on all around us – spiritual warfare as it is commonly referred to.
But where am I in relation to the front lines?
I’ve been lulled to sleep, distracted to oblivion by an abundance of wealth, food choices, shows to watch, and things to argue about. I see my fellow man as my enemy as the news and social media fuel my anger to be directed at people. I’ve bought into lies that the world is selling me, continually returning to my chosen pacifier of Netflix or Amazon, to watch a show or buy something I don’t need. I don’t feel like I’m in a war. I look at Jesus, with his feathery blonde hair and blue eyes. He doesn’t look warlike either. Everything is good in my world.
No. I’ve been asleep; numbed to reality by first-world privilege; provoked to anger at wrongful targets.
But now, I’m waking up.
I’m waking up to the war at hand. I see the real Jesus (without the blue eyes) who did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). I’m coming to see the Jesus with the tattoo on his thigh, riding on a white horse, slaying the Enemy with a double-edged sword (Revelation 19). I’m responding to the call to be a good soldier (2 Timothy 3-4), to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). This is the language of warfare, only our warfare looks different than the world’s.
We wage war in love through worship, prayer, and God’s Word. Jesus tells us to love – to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). We should scandalously love those we disagree with because our enemy is not flesh and blood – not human. There is a dark ruler of this world that Paul warns us about in the above passage. Paul speaks of armor and weapons that aren’t what we’d typically think of for battle in a physical world. Because the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). It’s not our fellow man that we’re wrestling against.
We make war by praying. I look to the monks that lived at Skellig Michael, the westernmost land mass of Europe – the front lines – in order to fight the Enemy through prayer on behalf of the continent. I look to Stephen in Acts 7 who prays for the souls of those who kill him; or Paul when he converts a girl in Acts 16 who had a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16-18), exercising the authority over the Enemy, given to him (us) by Jesus. Just like the fall of Jericho in Joshua 6, I prayer walk around my office or neighborhood to destroy the walls and strongholds of the Enemy. Through prayer we conquer our Enemies!
I am convicted – provoked to do what Jesus did. Though there is still a battle to be fought and persecution to come, victory is ours in Christ: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Practice: Putting on the armor of God.
Before you leave your house in the morning, try praying Ephesians 6:14-17 to ready yourself for the day:
I fasten on the belt of truth – what Jesus says about me – which holds all together.
I put on the breastplate of righteousness – the righteousness of Jesus – with which no accusation may be made against.
As shoes for my feet, I put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace which leads me into battle, ready to share the Good News.
I take up the shield of faith, with which I can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one as he takes shots at me with accusation and slander.
I place the helmet of salvation on my head, knowing that my name is written in Heaven.
Finally, I take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, wielding it as my weapon of offense. I turn the Words of Scripture into prayers that take back ground from the Enemy.