An inconvenient position I sometimes wish I could ignore, I’m very aware of the w-fare call for myself and for the ecclesia. Of course I’ve heard all the cliches like, “I know who I am in Christ; I don’t need to war” (missing the point) or “we w-r from a heavenly perspective (true, but usually a cliche for all practical purposes).
My perspective of the subject has broadened over the past few years, hopefully with more knowledge, grace, and usefulness. So, my personal definition of spiritual w-fare, or we could say our Christian w-fare, would be close to: displacing the operative influence and control of the kingdom of darkness in society by the authority, disposition, and operational wisdom of the kingdom of heaven. A pretty big assignment.
I’m convinced that 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 must be read contextually on a societal level, with the strongholds being collective mindsets that hold people groups in bondage. After all, Jesus did say that the gates of hell would not withstand against the ecclesia, they being on the defensive end. Intentional, purposeful, and not deviating from the nature of heaven – righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Therefore personal well-being of the individual is no longer something we should ignore.
I’m going somewhere with this
Lofty collective ideals of assignment are ineffective unless the vision purpose and well-being of the individual is realized. No more religiously stuffing people into a collective agenda. God cares about people individually as well as their societies. Kingdom people already know it’s not just about our going to heaven someday. In our time, everything about the person is being conformed to the Second Adam, resurrected and glorified.
So, down to the spiritual armor level. Often, the subject of the spiritual armor is also dealt with in a superficial, silly, and even dismissive manner. The imagery of the fully-clad Roman soldier is a metaphor, not the substance. As supernatural endowments of the New Creation, each piece of armor described in Ephesians 6:10-17 is lived intentionally and by revelation, and will protect a person’s vision, autonomy, integrity, well-being of soul, personal promises, as well as physical well-being.
I’m going to skip over most of the pieces of armor in order to get to my point for today.
Some time ago I received a word that’s been expanding in me ever since. It completely surprised me, upending my previous perspective.
First thing in the morning on my way to the smell of coffee in the kitchen , I heard, “For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord. You surround him with favor as with a shield.”
Of course, that’s Psalm 5:12. The surprising part was that it was being related to me as clearly and directly connecting with Ephesians 6:16 – “and taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming darts of the wicked one.”
Throughout the Old Testament, God spoke of Himself as a shield of favor and protection to His people. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord gives grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk up rightly.” Just one of many similar words.
Except for a short season of time Job flourished, being completely encased within a hedge of God’s favor and blessing.
God told Abraham, “Do not fear, Abram. I AM your shield and your exceeding great reward.”
Psalm 91 describes the secret place of protection and blessing to the person who trusts the Lord as their dwelling place.
So to divorce that dimension of God’s nature from the New Covenant, our better covenant, while simultaneously gritting our teeth and exerting every effort to “lift up the shield of faith” against the enemy, envisioning it as some water-soaked leather item we are trying to hide behind, seriously lacks insight.
We are graced with the very presence of the Most High whose covering is every protection and provision through the completed work of Christ. Insight fills us with confident ease in His favor and goodwill working for us, encased within an invisible fortress of Himself. Just like children who’ve been raised in a loving environment, happily unaware of outside terrors, we too can be recalibrated to His gracious endowments and live freely in joy, while our enemy is frustrated outside the hedge. Only, we’re not unaware. How? Total yielding, active trust in who our God is. That is lifting up the shield of faith.
Two key points in all this. Never divorce God’s promises from His Presence. When we do, we struggle to perform them ourselves. The covenant-keeping God of the Old Testament has already kept his covenant with Messiah. We rest within that.
Also, maybe not as obvious, is that we are all being “renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him,” meaning that you are being restored to the identity and destiny God designed for you before the world was formed. He really is that good. So, live and love big as if it’s already done.
This will lead into the next level – our assignment as the shields of the earth.