Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Inflection Point of Spiritual Warfare

What is a point of inflection? Mathematically, it is the point where the direction of change from up to down or vice versa is present. It is the tipping point of change from one type of momentum to another. When it comes to spiritual warfare, there are tipping points that mark the point when our prayers and intercession become more impactful. In 2 Peter chapter one, there is a stunning passage that can be applied to the art of spiritual warfare for the believer who has exited a dysfunctional religious group but has family that has chosen to remain with the group. In most cases, it takes a long time, if ever, for these to be free from the sense of spiritual failure they possess. In essence, it has been engrained in them that they never measure up to the ‘full stature’ that is in Christ. This is what they have been programmed to tell themselves by the religious experience they have lived under in such a group. Yet the inflection point, the change from ‘down to up’ is not so very far, in fact, it is always within range. The apostles have left us a very important legacy. If you have ever scanned the first chapters of any epistle, you will find the words grace or peace and in many cases, you will see both and them used together. Why is this? It is usually in a greeting and so we usually brush right past it without thinking but these words are the inflection point for the followers of Jesus and they mean just about everything. Listen to the words of Peter and Paul below and let them sink in and resonate within you.

2 Peter 1:2-3 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

Part of anyone’s issues that have survived a dysfunctional religious group is that what they have been conditioned to believe and say to themselves in some form or fashion is: ‘I must try harder in order to obtain Christ.’ Yet what the apostle Peter says above is that ‘everything pertaining to life and godliness’ has been granted to us by Jesus. We keep wanting to make the evaluation of ourselves to God when God has chosen us not based on our merits but His mercy. We do not and never will stand anymore in a point of condemnation by God…my friends, it is simply over and any hangover of that is merely a figment of our imagination. In essence because of this, we are robbed of many things; most importantly, the privilege of real communion with God. As I go through the scriptures below, let the reality of God’s love and care for you be assured. This is the best medicine and the real stuff of spiritual warfare. We who come to God must believe that He is and He is a ‘rewarder’ of those who seek Him. Productive spiritual warfare starts and ends with the following premise: God loves you.

The scripture above has a corollary in Peter’s first epistle in about the same place:

1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

In this holiday season, it is perhaps the darkest of times for us who are in such a situation. Spiritual warfare at this time is gnawed to the bone of spiritual survival. We, most likely, long to see family that is now estranged from us because of a difference in how we choose to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the tragedy of it. Yet the Lord speaks the same grace and peace to all of us through his delegate Peter. There are a few important aspects for us to remember. May they rebuild the fortress of love God desires to stand and to endure in your heart:

1> Grace and peace is not sourced in our own ability. In essence it is a gift of God given to us freely. How do we acquire such precious commodities? It is in the text (the first verse above): “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness”. How is this gained? Again, the text: “through the true knowledge of Him who called us…” What is this knowledge? In the greek it is interpreted as perception. That is, one who handles an object so as to familiarize themselves with it…in essence to ‘know it’. What this means is Jesus puts us in the place where we can know Him in such a manner. The Scriptures in the old testament confirms the desire of God to be known; as David said it in the Psalms “taste and see that the Lord is good.” . Our grace and peace is sourced and wholly represented in the blood atonement of Christ

2> Knowledge as it is used in the first passage is not really the definition we would ascribe to in our language and culture. I want to reiterate here so the point is not missed. The idea here is familiarity through experience in using something. It is more like practicing with some instrument, object or weapon to understand how it works. A good example here is your own bible. How many times have you taken a bible that is not your own and tried to find something. Yet in your personal bible, you can put your hand on it immediately. This is the type of knowledge being referred to yet God Himself is the counterpart. We cannot say that we can become familiar with God but what we can say it that He can become familiar to us. He must always be the initiator. In the passages above, what we see is the desire of God to be known and also His countenance towards us is best described as grace and peace. Why? Because of Christ’s shed blood. We cannot engage in intercession and prayer without the way being made by the blood of Jesus. It is the way that we are allowed to approach the presence of God. Grace is best described as ‘favor’ and peace is best described not as a feeling but a fact this is evidenced by the linking of peace of Christ with the work on Calvary by Him:

Col 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

The point that Paul the Apostle is making here is to emphasize the universal nature of this peace, the scope of it is anything in heaven and on earth.

So what does this all have to do with Spiritual Warfare as it comes to interceding for family members or loved ones still within the functional group? Well, if all the above is true then the global and common state of us all in on the grounds of blood and nothing else.. It is one unifying substance that causes us all to be in one state – redemption. Dear reader, it is the omnipotent and undeniable force that bonds EVERY believer together. In Jesus, we are not separated from anyone He has chosen and called to Himself. He is our link to those we have lost. Through Him and only Him, they we have lost can be touched and handled and may I say it loved. We might not be able to be in their presence, but Our Lord can and is there. He is our link to them and He is enough. My friends, He is the inflection point. He is the center that will always hold within the widening gyre of our estrangement. The reality is the closer we get to Him, the closer we get to them. Let’s face it, in His presence there is no conflict only unity. There is on condemnation just reconciliation. There is no estrangement only fellowship. The very fact that there are polemics in the body of Christ is because of the void of His presence in the situation. We must realize that Jesus can be on both sides because in Him there is no side at all. It is only our blindness, stubbornness, lack of vision and understanding that separates us because we have forgotten the irresistible power of His blood.

As we pray in this season, let its message be to us. Grace and peace. As the angels sang on the night of His birth into this world, the one who is eternal and has always been:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Our hands must be open in love and our hearts willing to believe in the power of love expressed through Christ to the entire world. Our prayers are heard so pray them, pray them with this in mind: Jesus stands between us and those we have lost. As we hold His hand, we can know He holds theirs. He is enough, he has always been enough. We cannot be sufficient be He always is. All voices that speak the negative against us are silenced in His presence. In His presence, there is fullness of joy.

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