Friday, December 29, 2006

Is Warfare the Spirit of Christ?

Dave (who wears a pleated skirt) mentioned the point of this post in a comment to my last post on spiritual warfare. Concurrently JJ the Smu is running a series on spiritual warfare.

"But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village."

Now there is some question whether the response by Jesus is to be found in the text, or whether it was added later, but as Dave (who loves Haggis) mentioned it certainly appears to identify the heart of Jesus. We know that He rebuked the disciples for wanting to call down fire.

Their plan was to toast the heretics. His plan was to seek and save the lost. He spent His ministry breaking down the barriers which man-made religion created - those barriers which kept people from experiencing God. They perceived the rejecting community of Samaritans as heretics who could not scale the walls of true religion to make it in. The disciples saw an us versus them scenario. Jesus saw people He would be willing to give His life for.

Any sense of warlike behavior which identifies other people as enemies needing a violent spiritual remedy, does not appear to be the heart of Jesus to me. Anyone who falls prey to the us versus them thinking appears to have lost some kind of battle already. They perhaps are unnecessary casualties of their own fight, and are taking down other people with them. When we should be helpers together with the rest of the human race to find the way toward God, it seems to me that creating a spiritual war which includes identifying other people as part of the enemy system is something worse than friendly fire - it is almost a kind of treason.

In my city, the enemy is sometimes perceived by Christians to be working closely with the Pagans who live here. I believe in devils, but I do not believe that devils work closely with any human, rather if any work happens they work against all humans. I will not be treasonous, and treat other casualties of any trouble evil spirits cause as enemies themselves.

I believe that Jesus must have said these words, and that they speak to us today as much as anytime in human history. "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them."


Webb Kline said...

I think they work anywhere they must have an open door to work. But you are right, Phil, that we can't say, "Look at the poor, ignorant demon-deceived heathen over there, let's go tell them they need deliverance." Perhaps they do work with the Pagans, but can anyone seriously say they don't work with churches? That's ludicrous.

There has to be more deception within religious institutions than just about anywhere else. For the sake of those who don't believe in evil-supernatural manifestations, I will save my butt by not delving too deeply into my personal experiences, but I must say that some of the most horrific encounters I've ever faced happened at church.

If we discern that there is a spirit at work in someone or something, then we should pray for wisdom, and if we feel it is necessary, we should go and confront the demonic powers face-to-face. We don't need to offend or alienate people. If we really love them, why would we want to evoke fear and anger in them?

Webb Kline said...

When I said 'confront them face to face," I meant confronting the demonic powers without any humans being there.

Shiloh Guy said...

I started going to India in 1990 to teach and preach in a rural area of Andhra Pradesh. This has greatly affected my perspective on "spiritual warfare." I remember my first trip when I was amazed at the various manifestations of demons I saw. When I talked to the brothers there about the "spiritual warfare" they conducted on a daily basis they were surprised. They couldn't believe ministry wasn't like this in the US. They just called it "living the Christian life" in a wicked society. The difference between ministry there and ministry here still makes me stop and think.

Shiloh Guy said...

Oh,uh, Phil,

Why did Edward I take on the Welsh before he ventured north? I suggest he knew Wales would be much easier to conquer than Scotland. (And he was right.) Plus, he knew he would need the Welsh archers if he was even going to have a chance with the Scots. (By the way, we forgive you guys for that. But we never would have turned on fellow Celts like that.)

Son #2, Caleb, plays rugby for the Grand Rapids Gazelles and also at Lake Superior State University up in Sault Ste. Marie. Best game ever. I was in Scotland when we won the Five Nations back in the early '90s I think it was. We should plan a road trip for the Six Nations next time. What do you say?

And don't ever call my kilt a skirt!

Dave Moorhead

Anonymous said...

prayer and intercession for those that don't know Jesus should have it's own time and place. I believe that place is not on display for all to see. The heart behind each prayer must count some too"the prayer of righteous man avails much (James I think). We must have love, compassion and understanding as we pray. That's probably why I hear so much about how a mother's or grandmother's consistent prayer request for her children have come true. Who can question the love behind that.