If your relationships were a screenplay, would the resulting movie look more like “Apocalypse Now” or “Sense and Sensibility”?
Providentially, we here in America have lived in a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity. Life has been predictable and secure. Our part in various Middle East wars over the past 26 years has not impacted our daily routines or our way of life too much. “War” has been relatively far from our consciousness.
We Are At War
Yet, Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens…” (Holman).
Spiritually speaking, we are in a battle; a war; a struggle. Do we remember that when we wake up each morning in our comfortable beds with the aroma of fresh coffee wafting through the air? The analogies equating war with our faith are easy to understand. A mindset for battle is quite different from the carefree attitudes of peace. A soldier who wakes up in a war zone thinking he is on vacation in Tahiti will not survive. As Christians we need to remember that we are in a war until the moment we die or when Christ returns.
My Spouse is Not My Enemy
Who then is the enemy? Paul says that the war we are in is not against flesh and blood. While our relationships at church, at home and at work are very much part of the theater of war these people with whom we share life are not the enemy. The enemy is the authorities, world powers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil. We are up against an extremely powerful foe who demonstrates unprecedented acuity in the schemes he uses in attempt to destroy us.
How often do we succumb to one of Satan’s most diabolical schemes: that of turning us against each other?
Before we were married, I remember going to a marriage conference with Leslee. One of the speakers asked each couple to look at each other and repeat, “My spouse is not my enemy.” At the time, I had no appreciation for what that was all about. I was deeply in love with Leslee. How could we be enemies?! It didn’t take long for Leslee and me to understand what that meant.
Anyone in a relationship of any value is going to experience struggles that when responded to wrongly, can easily divide two people who love each other making them enemies–at least for a moment. We may not say, “You’re my enemy!” But the anger, frustration, and hopelessness in our hearts that spills out in our biting words exposing our hearts.
Left un-corrected, it is very easy to dwell on these emotions which spiral down into a root of bitterness against that person. Then comes some form of breakdown or outright dissolution of the relationship. In marriage, it is sometimes divorce. In parenting, it may be the countdown to college or “the day I can get out of here”. In church, it is a serial pattern of moving from one church to the next. Worse, these relationship are no longer a means through which we can give and receive the grace we all desperately need in order to live for God’s glory.
Christ, Our Armor
In Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul tells us “be strong in the Lord”. In Christ, we have spiritual armor that through the Holy Spirit, is completely capable of defending us against Satan’s sometimes subtle, sometimes vicious, but always scheming attacks. Our armor is made up of the provisions found in our inheritance in Christ: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Prayer is the spiritual means by which we put on and use this spiritual armor. Praying the word, together, is powerful.
Do we miss the context of Ephesians 6? Ephesians 3-5 talks about our relationships with each other as spiritual brothers and sisters, as friends, as spouses, as parents and children, as bosses and employees. These relationships should serve as an important means through which we support one another through the warfare. We need to speak the truths of the gospel (our armor) to one another bolstering our confidence in Christ to stand firm. Don’t let your relationships be a casualty of war!
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