My husband, Nathan, and I were talking as we walked to lunch today and I shared with him how I feel like a lot of things in life have changed since we got married, not all directly related to marriage.
Lately I've been frustrated in the area of friends. I'm having to take the offensive and be the one to pursue my relationships outside my marriage (although that one also takes work, especially being only 4 months old). The thing is, I feel like I'm the only one making the effort to take the initiative. Whether it's my close friend that I don't see anymore unless we make specific plans, or the new friends I'm making through my knit group and other places. Honestly the lack of effort on my friends' sides at times makes me feel like I'm not important to them. And taking the initiative isn't always easy for me, which means that I end up not spending the time with my dear friends that I wish I did.
I could easily live "defensively" and end up a hermit, only spending time with my husband and probably driving him nutso. Perhaps if I waited long enough, someone would decide to actually call me up. It can also be tiring and discouraging, but in the end, when I'm connecting with that friend who's been with me through this and that, it's all worth it.
But I crave community and I crave the encouragement of others, especially other believers. It's the way God designed us. We are to sharpen iron on iron and that's what Church is about whether that's your normal church service, or two friends coming together in Christ to encourage, exhort and lift each other up.
On a spiritual level, the Bible is constantly using "offensive" terminology, and perhaps that's where the term "warfare" comes from, especially considering the continuous warring that went on in the Old Testament and throughout Israel's history. The wars and battles fought were both spiritual and literal. I think that we like to be able to label things, so we put the label of "warfare" on the spiritual battle that goes on in our lives. I know I feel a warring going on between my soul and my fleshly desires. And it's too easy to name off the demons "Greed, Lust, Self-righteousness, Pride, Anger". And it certainly feels like demonic oppression.
...and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matt 16:18The gates don't move. The church does. WE are on the offensive and the "powers of Hell" (as another translation puts it), are on the defensive. But that doesn't mean that we are knocking down people along the way. We are to overcome evil with GOOD. The greatest of these is LOVE. I think that's where a lot of us get confused (particularly in Charismatic circles). We become so impassioned, that we forget that Jesus' focus was on healing, restoration, touching the untouchables, recognizing people's needs and meeting them where they are at. He didn't sit back and just let people travel to him from wherever they were (although that did happen as well), he traveled to the people...he went to their homes and ate with them, healed them, and restored them.
We aren't better than people who don't know Jesus like we do. We aren't above them, or in some Holy club, we are simply followers of a God who has touched us and we are called to share His touch with those around us. He's given us His spirit so that we have authority and power over evil, but he calls us to love our neighbors above all else.
- What do you struggle with when it comes to contemporary understandings of spiritual warfare?
- What should spiritual warfare look like in everyday life?
So in the day to day, I think the number one thing is to be connecting with God...to See Him, to Touch Him, and to let Him meet our needs, to fill us with Himself. Without His love and life in us, we can't do it. I know I can't. We need him to open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to what's going on in our lives and the lives of those around us.
I do think that there may be times (moments or even longer periods of time) when the spiritual is more present in my awareness and there is a strong sense of very real, very demonic activity, but in the day to day it's not that sensational.