This is not a game.
My pastor has made this statement on several occasions throughout his sermons. He says it in regards to our country’s cultural climate, which continues to grow colder towards Christ followers each day. I honestly hate hearing these words and would rather ignore them, but I believe that my pastor is right and that he would be doing us a disservice in not telling us.
Ironically, our country seems to treat politics differently than my pastor’s views. The commentators of our day (aka the media) choose which political party they will adhere to, then they defend that “team” regardless of any “fouls” or other indecencies exhibited, all the while debasing the other “team”. But this is not a game. None of us are merely sitting on the sidelines, cheering or booing at each team depending on what “plays” have been made. We won’t go home and forget what has happened on the “field”, because each action will ultimately affect our lives in one way or another. Each of us will ultimately win or lose long after each decision has been made.
This is not a game. It is something far graver and more concerning than what we may have been giving it credit for. It is not a game. No, it’s an all-out war. Nonetheless, it is not a war waged against the different political parties of our day, nor against people groups, movements, or nations.
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.”Ephesians 6:12
Therefore, it is spiritual warfare that requires a spiritual form of attack and defense. Below are some actions that we can take to prepare for the battle at hand:
- Put on the armor of God.
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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”Ephesians 6:13-16
In practical terms, putting on the armor of God means that we filter everything we see, hear, and think through the lens of truth found in God’s Word and therefore reject any part of our culture that does not align with righteousness as described in His Word. We also pray for and take advantage of opportunities God gives us to present the gospel to people that He places in our paths, knowing that the end draws near and that God desires that no one should perish. Moreover, we remain firm in our faith, reminding ourselves that this world is not our home. A celestial city awaits us whose King rules in absolute righteousness, justice, and truth. But until we enter through those pearly gates, we pray, preach, think, and act according to God’s Word. It is our weapon of attack against the spiritual realm of darkness that we battle. Through these means, we partake in spiritual combat and are given the opportunity to see God’s kingdom advance.
2. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”Matthew 10:16
These are the words that Jesus spoke to the twelve apostles when He sent them out into the world. Thousands of years later, they still apply to Christ followers today. We are still like sheep in the midst of wolves, and as the world grows more critical of believers, it is easy to see just how true that is.
As such, we must learn how to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, and a big part of this means learning to have discretion with what we say. This does not mean that we should not boldly declare the truth. It doesn’t mean that our words won’t necessarily be offensive to others either. After all, people took offense at Jesus from His own hometown (Matthew 13:57).What it does mean, however, is that we consider our motives for what we say and how we say it. Are we sharing certain thoughts as true ambassadors of Christ would? Do our words express concern for the lost? Do they represent individuals who authentically follow Christ? I’ll admit that these questions are ones that I need to ask myself. It is far too easy to want to respond in anger to the foolish actions or responses of others when I’m watching the news or reading articles or posts online. Nonetheless, if I want to become more like Jesus, then I need to consider the weight of my words and choose them wisely. May they become more and more a reflection of Jesus to others, both to believers and unbelievers alike.
After the Apostle Paul listed what the armor of God entails, he gave this most important admonishment:
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.”Ephesians 6:18
Prayer is our greatest means of spiritual defense and attack in the battle in which we are engaged. Through it, we ask God to act through us, in us, and on our behalf. Through it, we recognize our helpless state and God’s ability to work in miraculous ways, both in our own lives and all throughout the world.
- Abraham prayed, and God healed king Abimelech and his wife and female servants.1
- Moses prayed, and God caused the plagues of frogs, flies, hail, and locusts to cease.2
- Samson prayed, and God allowed him to defeat his Philistine enemies one last time.3
- Hannah prayed, and God granted her a son.4
- Nehemiah prayed, and God enabled the wall to be rebuilt and the exiles to return home.5
There are far too many examples throughout Scripture to list them all here, but in each one, prayer is the invitation that God uses to miraculously work in the midst of people, and it is still the invitation He responds to today.
James 5:16 states that “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” So, let’s keep praying according to God’s will, and let’s keep trusting that He is working in our midst and all throughout the earth, even beyond what our eyes can see.
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.”Proverbs 21:31
- Genesis 20
- Exodus 8-10
- Judges 16
- 1 Samuel 1
- Nehemiah 1, 7
- Pictures of Scripture taken from BibleGateway.com