Last weekend marked the 157th anniversary of my home church, Browning Avenue Baptist Church, being planted. Over the weekend we had David Rushbrook (pastor of Sudbourne and Tunstall Baptist Church) come to speak to us, looking at some of the word pictures that the Bible uses for the church.
On Sunday evening we looked at the church as an army, and David made a point which i've been thinking a bit about this week.
We were looking at Ephesians 6:10-20.
Who do you think of as the enemy of Christians? I think i'm sometimes quick to think that our enemies are those who oppose Christianity, those who want to suppress the truth, those who teach lies and lead people astray.
What does Paul have to say?
"We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
Our real enemy is the devil and his forces. Those people around us who aren't Christians are merely his prisoners, those deceived by his lies and blinded by Him. We should think of them not as our enemy, but as prisoners of our enemy. We fight the enemy to bring them back from their captivity, we strive with them and for them to help them to see the truth and to see through the lies with which they've been deceived.
O Church Arise and put your armour on
Hear the call of Christ our Captain
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given
With shield of faith and belt of truth
We’ll stand against the devil’s lies
An army bold whose battle-cry is Love
Reaching out to those in darkness
Our call to war to love the captive soul
But to rage against the captor
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight with faith and valour
When faced with trials on every side
We know the outcome is secure
And Christ will have the prize for which He died
An inheritance of nations