Though I cannot remember the title of the book now, many years ago my children and I read a historical fiction book about a Jewish family who lived in Germany before World War II. The Jews during this time period in that location usually fell into different categories of mindsets as the very first inklings of Hitler and his army were beginning to blossom. Some Jews were alarmed by the little changes they were seeing in their world, and they felt the unspoken warning to move to a safer place outside of Hitler’s reach before things got bad. Others saw the danger but were concerned about staying to protect their extended families or homes. And others saw no reason to be concerned with the changes in Germany. I wonder how many of those in the latter two groups later regretted their lack of heeding the signs before the danger grew too intense to escape. I wonder how many of us right here reading this blog post are aware of the spiritual war that is raging around us. Could it be possible that we are asleep in the middle of one of the most crucial wars ever to take place, gloriously ignorant of all that is at stake?
Ephesians 6:12 makes it clear that there is indeed a battle taking place in the realm that is not seen by human eyes.
This is a clear picture of the unseen war raging around us, and yet why do many Christians operate as if it’s not a reality? In our experience of talking openly about spiritual warfare with Christian friends, we have found a handful who actually understand what we are talking about.
The rest either…
1) look confused
2) look at us as though we are “way out there,”
3) actually laugh at us for acting as though there really is a spiritual battle going on around us.
We know a Christian man who is active in his church who told us that he doesn’t believe in spiritual warfare. This is a problem.
I wonder how many of those Jews in the opening story regretted their lack of heeding the signs before Hitler and his Nazi army rolled in and changed their lives forever. Body of Christ, it is CRUCIAL that we (at the very bare minimum) KNOW that there is indeed spiritual warfare raging around us. We must see the signs around us and make our decision to armor up and follow Jesus or not. We must choose to be either HOT or COLD.
Why are Believers Asleep?
In a Christian movie that I once showed my children when they were little, there’s an effective depiction of how the enemy lures Christians into a coma of sorts to keep them ineffective in the battle he rages against their lives. He invites the kids one by one into a fun area where he gives them sweet treats and puts virtual glasses on their eyes to keep them distracted in a pretend reality. With their virtual glasses on, they get sucked into video games as a fun diversion from their real life. Meanwhile, the enemy who lured them is actually busy taking new territory for himself in the real world. Many of us in the body of Christ are sitting in a coma-like state, ignorant that the enemy has lured us into a virtual world where we are blissfully unaware that he’s actually rolling right over us, stealing, killing, and destroying people, marriages, families, churches, everything in his path.
But why exactly are many of us unaware? Why are the virtual glasses on our eyes?
Francis Chan, an American pastor who left his thriving megachurch, gives great insight into why the church is asleep or off-track at best. In an article by Premier Chrstianity titled “Why I Quit My Megachurch and Started Over,” Francis Chan was asked why he left his megachurch. He responded,
“We were just looking at scripture and seeing so many commands we weren’t obeying as a church. The church was really built around a speaking gift and a sermon, which is what a lot, maybe all, churches at that time were built around – and, you know, we would look at scripture and go: ‘Gosh, there should be so much more interaction.’ One of the questions that I asked was: ‘Am I part of the problem? Do people want to come and hear a sermon rather than use their spiritual gifts because I’ve trained them for that?’ Why don’t I consider moving on to a more unreached place and starting something new that was reproducible, more like the underground Church in China? Something that didn’t depend so much on me but on the whole body of Christ.”
I have noticed something that is universal in the many churches and Christian groups that I’ve experienced within the 10 different American states I’ve lived in. When someone experiences God in a real way…I mean, REALLY experiences God in an intimate way that rocks their entire lives, they are never the same. And the sugar-coated, half-inch-deep sermons that once fulfilled their weekly Christian check-off-the-box duty are no longer a satisfying meal. They begin yearning and longing for real meat in their spiritual diets and the opportunity to grow in their spiritual gifts. And, while some churches are providing this, multiple others are not. Preaching may be done by someone with a seminary degree, but it lacks the power that Jesus taught with. Jesus spoke the truth, raised the dead, healed the sick, and cast out demons. And He said that if we believed in Him, we would do those same things. He went even further to say that WE would do EVEN GREATER THINGS THAN HE DID John 14:12-14. And yet, how many of us in America have experienced this in our churches? How many of us are actually encountering the Lord in our churches? Because if we are encountering Him, we are experiencing and doing miracles like He did. And THAT kind of experience will not leave one sleeping!
The enemy has lulled many of us in the body of Christ to sleep. Here’s the thing:
- He does not care if we go to church every Sunday and Wednesday as long as the teaching is powerless.
- He doesn’t care if we have children’s programs with the latest and greatest themes, rock-climbing walls, and candy for memorizing Scripture.
- He doesn’t care if we bring ten cans of food to the food drive or if we don’t miss a single choir practice or if we go all the way to Zimbabwe on a mission trip.
The enemy is fully aware that we can do all of these things and never call on the power of the living God to do them. In fact, he can use these very things to put virtual glasses on us, making us believe we are furthering God’s kingdom when in reality we are being kept out of the true battle. As missionary Amy Carmichael said, “Satan is so much more in earnest than we are–he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost.”
What the enemy fears is an on-fire follower of Jesus who refuses the mainstream sugary teaching and goes in search of the meat on the narrow path. He fears believers who truly do believe they will do what Jesus did and more and then go in search of how to activate that power. And he really fears the body of Christ waking up to the fact that he’s waging a real war that their eyes cannot see.
We cannot sleep, Church! We must awaken to the spiritual war so that we can be effective soldiers who shake enemy territory.
This is a call to awaken the church from sleeping during a spiritual war.