In a rare moment of internet fever, I researched how many wars there have been in human history. Answers ranged from dozens to thousands, depending on many criteria. I suppose we could consider the conflict between Cain and Abel the first human war, unusual in that it was extremely short, one side was completely destroyed, and the other side suffered no losses.
The month of March was named after the Roman God Mars, the god of war. Originally, Mars was a god of spring, fertility, and growth, then became the god of death and war. I'd say that's a backwards career move.
One of his names was Mars Gradivus, "he who precedes the army in battle." March was the start of the campaign season, and the Tubilustrium, held on March 23, was a ceremony to make the army fit for war. I hope your visions of March haven't changed from blossoms to bloodshed!
Most of us would rather avoid war, and most of us probably have. Or we think we have!
I recently read a novel about spiritual warfare. It was graphic and sensational, but soberly true to life. It was about a town being taken over by Satan. The novelist gave two perspectives, the human and the angelic. Behind the depraved and decadent activities of the townspeople was the unseen battle between good angels and demons in the spiritual realm. Skeptics might belittle such talk, but the Bible bolsters that stark scenario.
We cannot count the human wars but we know when they start and end. However, one war exists that began with human history and has not yet ended. Like it or not, we are unwilling participants if we are followers of Jesus Christ.
Similar to the war on terror, it's impossible to visually identify our enemy. "For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:34). In the novel, one pastor recognized the fingerprints of the unseen enemy and was able to deploy spiritual weapons to win the battle. Effective equipment is always at our disposal, provided by the heavenly supply sergeant, who sees the entire battlefront.
Ephesians chapter 6 is the Christian soldier's manual for engaging in spiritual warfare. It enumerates the equipment we need, "For 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" (Ephesians 6:12).
Furthermore, our God precedes us in battle: "The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you" (Deuteronomy 1:30). Therefore, we know the expiration of the conflict is sure: "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, [Jesus] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Colossians 2:15). "And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10).
Finally, an effective army must continually be fit for war: "Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21). "Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him" (2 Timothy 2:34).
Are you fit to fight or ready to retreat?
Alan Allegra is a freelance Christian writer in Pennsylvania. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. More articles at Lifestyles Over 50: http://www.lifestylesover50.com/ and the Morning Call: www.mcall.com. Available for writing. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alanallegra/
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