In light of the recent events occurring throughout the country, I felt the need to discuss a topic that gets overlooked in many Christian circles. According to Sarah Farish, "The outside world has jumped on the theological concept of spiritual warfare as an opportunity to commercialize the demonic through horror films and television shows. Say the words “spiritual warfare” and opinions tend to polarize between those two camps: those who sensationalize the supernatural to a maximum and those who downplay the reality of spiritual warfare to a minimum." However, to minimize spiritual warfare is to perform a disservice to the Christian faith and render followers of Christ powerless in this struggle.
On a nationwide level, we are certainly under attack. Our most recent attack resembles more of a civil war than that of a world war. Our very own are fighting one another based on the color of one's skin. In the wake of these events, we must know that there is a deeper, underlying battle taking place. Although on the surface we have witnessed videos segments revealing hand-to-hand combat, scripture speaks of an unseen battle:
Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Paul clearly writes of a domain of darkness in verse 13. Understanding that our battles are not simply between flesh and blood can greatly affect our game plan. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul sheds light on 6 critical pieces of armor available for the the believer, and you and I would do well to consider both the offensive and defensive tools in our possession.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints
During the last month, the attack has hit even closer to home. I have personally felt the psychological attacks of the enemy and know that these attacks can leave us feeling derailed and powerless. If you are like me, I want to remind you of some good news today. A reoccurring theme found in the apostle Paul's writing throughout the New Testament is one of an "already, not yet" victory. Simply put, Jesus has not only already won the battle, but we are also in the process of experiencing that victory. Jesus conquered death once and for all on the day of his ascension. He died and defeated death in one fail swoop. This is good news for his children. However, the battle still rages on. As his sheep, we must engage daily in this victory. We take a step at a time, taking up his cross with each waking hour, continuing to push back the darkness that exists in our own neighborhoods, city streets, and in our own hearts. The battle is over, yet simultaneously remains. Perhaps this is why John writes in Chapter 16:33 of his Gospel, "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.”
In the words of one man who understood these battles as well as any, "darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." I am personally grateful for the men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who pointed others to the author of love, our God himself. May we take refuge under his wing during these perilous times until that fateful day when we see his son Jesus face to face.