Focus On The Right Fight

Ephesians 6:12 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Two weeks back, I wrote about standing strong in the power of the Lord. Today, as we stand, we need to focus our fight in the right direction, and choose strategies that align with God's principles.

There is no doubt that the struggle is real. Whether it is at a personal level, a ministry/church level or a society level, there is a struggle for us to progress God's kingdom. And sometimes we can be overwhelmed by what we perceive. I believe there are three main responses that I see.

  1. Duck, dive and evade
  2. Make a lot of noise
  3. Proactive & loving

 

Duck, dive and evade

This is the option to avoid conflict, to ignore the issues. It keeps ourselves "safe" but does little to remedy or improve the situation. If we are honest, most of us have areas where we choose to evade issues, I know I do. It is a short-term fix but if we want long-term health then eventually we need to process these issues in a different way.

Some intercessors use their role in prayer as an technique to evade getting actively involved. Don't get me wrong, we need people who pray and who seek God, but I don't believe we are called in every situation to only pray.

 

Making a lot of noise

This option does not do any work to fix or resolve issues, but everyone knows what we think about it. We might complain about it, tweet or post about it, we may even preach about it, but at no point do we take action towards facing it or resolving it.

We justify that it is better than doing nothing and that we can't fix everything ourselves, but I would suggest that neither evading nor only making a lot of noise about it is placing our focus on the right fight. If we agree that our fight is not against flesh and blood, then we can't really evade the struggles because the spiritual is still there and it is still at work. And making a lot of noise is usually directed at the people or structures that we believe are at fault and so not working on addressing the underlying issues.

 

Proactive and loving

I believe this is the Biblical model that Jesus show us. Jesus spent time in prayer getting aligned with God the Father, getting filled with the Holy Spirit and I am sure facing spiritual forces, his temptation is a clear example of that. He also spoke up about systemic issues, some of his comments to the Pharisees, Sadducees etc were scathing. And then in the midst of prayer and speaking out, he went out and made a difference to individuals. During his earthly ministry he helped the needy, he healed the sick, he raised the dead etc.

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, it is primarily spiritual and so I would suggest that we start on our knees, getting into God's presence, getting his insight and his empowerment, then go out and address systemic issues and ministering to people.

 

Earlier I mentioned three categories of struggle. I briefly want to comment on each of these.

Personal - if you are going through a personal struggle, then I want to encourage you that God's grace is sufficient. His grace will help you face whatever you are facing. His grace may be expressed in the people he puts around you, his grace and power may resolve the issue, his grace will uphold you and sustain you if you let it.
God I pray for those who are in the midst of a personal struggle, whether it is habitual sin, doubts, fears, sickness, relationship issues, finances, spiritual attack, work place or anything else, I pray that they would know and feel your presence, that you would be close to them. Give them wisdom, understanding, faith and courage, that they would see the issue for what it truly is, see the solution that you have for it and then be able to step into the solution.

Ministry - sometimes our struggle is in the context of our ministry involvement. Maybe there is an opportunity that we can see but can't take, maybe there are tensions with the people, maybe there is a lack of resources, maybe there is that one student that you can't seem to get through to or that one adult that feels like they are opposing us, or any number of other issues.
Remember that the struggle is not against flesh and blood, so for any challenge where there is a person directly involved, our struggle should not be against them. With people we need to be agents of grace and love, they may disagree with us but they are created in God's image and they are the Church. We can get caught up in our programs and philosophies on building a ministry, forgetting that none of that is the Church that God has committed to build. The people are the church. I wonder if we might not be called to account at the end of our lives for the times when we disregarded people for the sake of a building, program, system or philosophy. Christ died for the people, not the trappings of church.
Also, sometimes we see the person as the issue, when it is us that has something that needs to be dealt with.
God I pray for those who are facing struggles in their ministry. Let those who are facing struggles related to people remember that people are the purpose, that we should be agents of your grace and love. Let those who may be facing other struggles receive your wisdom and resource, let them see a pathway forward that would fulfill your purposes in the lives of young people in their community. Let peace reign in their heart.

Society - ultimately society is a collection of individuals that exist within a framework of some kind. Just as with ministry, we should love the people but face the systems that don't honour God. We may not be able to fix everything that we see as "wrong", but we can love the one in front of us, and we can speak up when an opportunity arises to promote God's love, his Kingdom and his systems.
God, I pray for all of us as we partner with you in the progression of your Kingdom in our lives and world. Help us to see with your eyes, speak with your words, and reach out with your hands. We can make a difference.