This topic has been on mind lately, so I want to spend some time in the coming weeks thinking about and talking through the idea of spiritual wartime. (Please note I am referring to a time of spiritual battle. I am not suggesting the topic of “Wartime Spirituality”, the vastly different experience of spirituality during physical/earthly war.) I want to think about those times when we find ourselves in spiritual conflict and to give special consideration to what Paul suggests in Ephesians 6.
To speak about spiritual wartime, we should first speak about spiritual peacetime. Peacetime, not just the absence of threat, but the fullness of life. The abundance that exists and allows for the indulgence of the unnecessary. When joy and contentment can occur effortlessly. When we can afford the luxury of the prescriptive and the ideas about how things “ought to be” can guide our expectations. In this space I have little to say other than enjoy the vibrancy of peacetime, and do not let the worry of war diminish the blessings of these days.
Wartime is something very different than peacetime, and it is no less true of the spiritual manifestation of these times. It is a time when threat exists, very real danger that almost guarantees casualties and collateral damage. Instead of abundance, there is lack. A lack of safety, a lack of the nonessential, and a lack of the things that “should be”. Wartime is about the reality of survival- not thriving. Yet, even in this space there can also be hope, and joy, and a peace that does not belong- it just may not be as effortless as we would like or are used to.
Our default setting is to want the peacetime life. Those who claim to wish for war are speaking of a romanticized idea of it. They either wish it out of ignorance to the real thing or a lack of memory from what they had once known long ago. War is ugly and tragic, and no amount of post victory celebration can make up for the loss it brings. Yet, hiding from the inevitability of it will not help us to avoid those times when- either individually or as a community- we will experience spiritual war.
I am not concerned about convincing anyone about what time we are currently in- peace or war. This is not a call to arms nor a battle cry. Some people are already battle worn, some are in the midst of combat, and some have yet to experience any of it- but no one should be oblivious to the existence of spiritual war. Instead, I wish to encourage us to consider that these times of war do exist and to suggest it may be good for us to consider what that might mean. Acknowledgement of spiritual war can help us face it- when the time comes- with eyes wide open, prepared in the strength God has offered us. It may be good to look to what God has provided for us. To consider what Ephesians 6 can offer in the way of guidance. (Especially if we allow ourselves to trim away some of the overtly western militarized thinking we have assigned to this passage over the years and to look with fresh eyes). It may be good to think of what it might mean to endure a time of battle with an enemy that we would rather forget even exists. It may be good to remember that we are called to be a member of Christ’s kingdom, and that call did not include a promise of never-ending peacetime. It may be good for us to prepare- not to diminish the blessings of the days of peace- but to allow those times of abundance to strengthen us for those times when there is lacking.
But above all else I wish to suggest that it IS good to pray. Prayer, which is essential in time of battle and times of peace. The value of prayer can not be understated. So, if you are enjoying the blessing of peacetime- pray. If you are fighting a spiritual fight- pray. And if you are not sure which one you are in- pray.
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Meet the Pastor
Pastor Heather and her family have been a part of the Cold Lake Community since December 2006 and she has been the pastor at Community Baptist Church since September 2017.