(Reading List Theme 2.8)

If you have been following my blog, you know that my last several posts were on a collection of scriptures about Walking in Faith. From James, Ephesians, and several Old Testament scriptures, I have looked at how we approach God in faith, how wisdom and faith are related, and some good and bad examples of living by faith (or not). The last section on this theme, as I planned it out in advance, is James 4, tying in to Ephesians 6, about spiritual battle.

To live in the Spirit, means that we don’t only look for natural solutions to our problems, but we consider the spiritual dimension as well. It is not “luck” that makes things go well or badly for us, but God or the evil spiritual forces of the earth. We don’t have to just go along with whatever happens to us with a sense of resignation, though – we have the chance to fight!  We fight not through physical force, politics, or manipulation. We fight through prayer. We fight through holy living. We fight with love. We fight our own desires within us for comfort and to do whatever is easy or feels good, but to do instead what is right, and to persevere in the path God lays out for us.

We do not fight alone. As we are faithful to God, “He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires” (James 4:6a). By humbling ourselves, drawing close to God, holy living, repentance, and a confession of dependence on the Lord, then “He will live you up and give you honor” (4:7-10). And by the way, don’t condemn others, because only God can truly judge (4:11-12), and don’t consider that you are the master of your own fate (4:13-16). As counter-intuitive as it seems… As anti-comic-book-heroic as it is… This is how we become strong in spiritual battle.

In looking at Ephesians 6, I didn’t really address the bit about the armor of God, but planned to come back to it. Ephesians 6:10-12 says, “Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power…for we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.” and then lays out the armor. If you grew up in church, you may have even seen (or made) a play set that had the words “righteousness” and “peace” and so forth emblazoned on the appropriate parts of a Roman soldier’s gear, as scripture depicts.

I began to think, if Paul lived today, what would he use instead as a metaphor? A member of the SWAT team, perhaps? ImageWe would gain the Utility Belt of Truth, the Bullet Proof Vest of Righteousness, the Combat Boots of the Gospel of Peace. The Shield of Faith and Helmet of Salvation would stay the same, and we’d have some kind of gun of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And of course, we still need to pray at all times.

Perhaps bringing the imagery into the present-day helps me to realize that what we are up against is just as serious as what it was like in the Bible. SWAT teams deal with the most dangerous cases in our cities. We who live in safe neighborhoods and amidst religious freedom may forget the dangers that are present all over our country. They may seem to only happen in the inner-city areas, but it just takes one shooting in your small town, one brutal robbery in your safe neighborhood, one criminal refugee in your neck of the woods, to realize that we are not as safe as we like to think.

In the spiritual realm, we may read about persecution of Christians in other countries, about human trafficking in southeast Asia, children enslaved to fight wars in Africa, or prevalent witchcraft in certain areas, and think that spiritual battle doesn’t apply to us…

Meanwhile our television shows and schools and businesses give daily evidence of the moral decline of our nation, the crumbling of freedom to speak and live by Godly principles in government-run institutions, and the general disinterest in the Bible, as it seems to become more and more irrelevant to daily American life. These are Spiritual issues, and we should engage in Spiritual battle to overcome them.

So what am I saying in this rambling post?

That we – I, myself – need to realize that as a Christian, I am an enlisted officer in the army of Jesus Christ, and I better take my post a little more seriously. Me and Jesus, we are “fine.” I don’t have any bitterness toward him, and I know he loves me. Most days, I feel I am doing the best I can. But my best is not enough… because if I consider my life honestly of late, I know that I waste more time than I invest in knowing my God and making him known. I am not actively in rebellion or living in great sin or running away from God… but, I have not had a pursuing heart.

So, Lord, before you right now and all ten of my readers, I will take your words to heart. As James so rightly commends, I humble myself before you, and I want to more actively draw close to you, and I repent right now of my complacence. I admit once again my dependence on you. I don’t want to live my life just “okay.” I want to live to make a difference, to know you in the extraordinariness of who you truly are, and be a light for you to others, that they may know you. Help me live as an example that holiness is better than worldly pleasure, love is better than indifference or condemnation, and that true joy and peace and fulfillment is found only in a life lived with you. Too many people don’t really know You, God. I want to know you, and make you known. I need your Power through me to energize my life and my daily encounters and parenting and friendships. I need to pray to let you in. I need to be more mindful of your relevance and the necessity of you guiding my life each day. Such is my goal, Lord. For the seven thousandth time I commit my life to you… Make me yours more each day. Amen.