Playfield or Battleground?
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For your struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:11-12
A mountain lion is a deadly predator that can take down and kill a human in seconds, given the right circumstances. David Jeremiah recently told the story of Robert Giles, a wild life researcher, who survived an encounter with a mountain lion. From downwind Giles approached a wilderness watering hole when he spied a mountain lion drinking at the edge. After the mountain lion quenched his thirst he wandered off into a thatch of trees nearby, whereupon Giles, after waiting for a time, approached to study its tracks at the water’s edge. Soon Giles looked up into the trees and saw two penetrating eyes fixed on him. He stood up and stared back as the ferocious animal came toward him out of the woods. The experienced researcher knew what many do not; you never turn and run when faced with a mountain lion. He stared back into its eyes as he drew his knife and stood stock still. The lion walked slowly to his left and Giles turned that way keeping his eyes on the eyes of the menacing animal; the mountain lion went right in stalking steps, and Giles turned to face him. This went on for a while until the mountain lion finally gave up and went off into the woods. Giles knew had he turned and run the lion would be on his back in seconds with his jaws around his neck snapping it in a flash as his teeth sunk into his jugular. If he had ever allowed the animal to see his back the lion would be on him in a flash. This is how they attack and kill animals five to ten times their size; it is how they have killed many humans in the wild.
The Bible declares that your arch enemy, Satan, is like a stalking lion waiting for the right moment to rush in for a kill. Just as Giles took his stand against the mountain lion, Ephesians 6 mentions “stand six times in the context of taking the correct position in defending against a cunning enemy. In my life time I have seen the Christian community change its perspective, at least in their actions, from the world as a battlefield to the world as a playfield. The world is no longer seen as a constant and deadly place of war upon which a lethal battle is unceasingly being fought. Lack of faith in the truth and authority of God’s Word has defanged the world and removed a practical belief in Satan. He may get lip service from some, but no commensurate steps to defend against him, which shows the lack of believing the Bible is completely true, unlike God’s Son.
Instead the world is more regarded as a place to play to your heart’s delight with little or no fear of harm. Even in the face of physical terrorism currently, the society, Christians included, focus more upon play than upon a stalking spiritual enemy far more dangerous than Islamic terrorists seeking to kill as many infidels as possible (anyone who does not adhere or convert to Islam according to the Qur’an). Gun wielding criminals bent on your immediate hurt or death are not more to be feared than the enemy described in Ephesians 6:12; except these spiritual enemies are ignored, their existence denied, which is to turn your back to the stalking lion. The Bible does not direct you to live in slavish fear to Satan and his minions, but it warns against denying his existence and not taking any defensive measures against his schemes (See C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters).
The young men who are at the PAYH see the world much more as a field for play than as a battleground requiring putting-on “the full armor of God to survive. Most all teenagers are no different; they are but following in the footsteps of their parents. The world appears, at least in its prospering areas, which are ever increasing, to be a vast “Vanity Fair (Pilgrim’s Progress), meant for play and indulgence, and certainly not for taking a stand in defense of righteousness. There has been a subtle, but dominant transformation in our society as it has become increasingly and now predominantly secular, while stamping out the values and influence of the Judeo-Christian worldview which once held the culture somewhat in check to the redeeming values of righteousness.
“Taking a stand is too often substituted with doing anything which will not invite the scorn of the world. Many Christians do not take a stand while seeking to become friends with adherents of a secular, anti-Christian world under the pretext of “winning a hearing sometime in the future; a hearing which in so many cases never takes place. Jude (22-23) points out the very real danger of being yourself corrupted as you seek to win such a “hearing. Too often the witness to truth will compromise under the pressure of vitriolic scorn; unlike Christ who scorns the “shame of the cross and the Gospel for your salvation (Hebrews 12:1-3).
If you see the world correctly, and arm yourself for the continuous battle with the full armor of God, and are willing to stand in the day of evil (today), scorning the shame of taking a stand, God, your God, promises triumph. What if today were the world’s last night? Never think it is too soon to take a stand. He will come when you never expect.
“Stand then in his great might, with all his strength endued; but take to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God. Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul; take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole.
(2nd verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Soldiers of Christ Arise, 1749)
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