Ignoring the Battle is Dangerous to Our Souls

Like most Americans, I am reminded daily of the battles we are fighting both at home and abroad. It seems undeniable that the amount, and intensity, of global terrorism is on the rise. And the news media do a good job of recounting the statistics and keeping the terrible images before us. Car bombings, insurgent uprisings, the kidnapping of foreigners and nationals alike and the ever rising number of victims, killed, wounded or sometimes maimed for life. One account in particular has stayed with me through the years. It is memorable because of the connection that God made for me with what is happening spiritually in our world today.
 
On December 2, 2006, Sgt. John Kriesel of Cottage Grove, MN lost both his legs while on patrol in Fallujah. He and 2 of his closest friends, Corey Rystad and Bryan McDonough, drove over a 200-pound roadside bomb that killed them and left him without legs and facing months of rehabilitation. After his return home he was interviewed by Ruben Rosario for an article in the St Paul Pioneer Press article where he recounted some of his experience in Iraq. “We ventured into Ramadi, a town overrun with insurgents. In a two-week period, soldiers discovered 35-40 ‘improvised explosive devices’- IEDs- planted on major supply routes. About five unit soldiers were injured in IED explosions. Although none were fatal, we kind of looked at each other and thought that someday, our luck would run out.”
 
When it comes to terrorism everyone understands that the war is real, the casualties are real and our enemy is ruthless. We also understand it is foolish to think that if we ignore it will go away or not impact us personally at some point in the future. We know to ignore it is to allow the battle to come to us and we will be unprepared and vulnerable.
 
The Bible reminds us that there is another war that is going on right now all around us, and it too is a war with a ruthless, though invisible, enemy. If we really believed in the power, cunning and ruthless nature of the forces that oppose us, we would run to strengthen our position by being filled with the Holy Spirit and putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17) each day before we got out of bed. The temptations to sin, the propaganda machine of the world system and the devil and his minions never go on vacation. To ignore their existence is like going on vacation in Baghdad with only your swimsuit to wear. The devil, his demons, and the world are all at work seeking to steal your joy, to destroy your marriage, destroy the lives of your kids, lead you into sin, deceive you into believing that which is false and anything else that he can do to ruin your life. We need to come to believe first of all the devil is real, and that he is a vicious, ruthless and unrelenting enemy.
 
The primary battleground for this assault is in our mind, tempting us to doubt the truth of God’s Word and getting us to act upon lies, half truths and deceptions that appeal to the flesh, our old nature. Each time we act upon one of these it leads us away from God and the life that He would have for us. There are many examples of how this manifests itself in contemporary life but because of space I will mention just one. In a survey of UCLA college freshman it was discovered “that nearly three-quarters of those surveyed in 2006 thought it was essential or very important to be ‘very well-off financially.’ That compares with 62.5 percent who said the same in 1980 and 42 percent in 1966, the first year the survey was done. Another recent poll from the Pew Research Center found that about 80 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds in this country see getting rich as a top life goal for their generation” (Associated Press). All of the research and polling data points in the same direction, we are losing the battle for the souls of our children.
 
As a way of addressing the issue I would offer a couple of suggestions. First, we must start with our own lives and examine them in light of God’s Word, the Bible. Do we believe that the battle is real and the outcome is important? Are we engaged in the battle watching over our souls and the souls of our children and grandchildren? I have met way too many believers that believe that they are somehow exempt from the battle because they have the financial means to retire from a career.
 
Second, we must become skilled in the weapons of our warfare; putting on the armor of God, knowing how to wield the sword of the Spirit (Word of God) and learning to pray at all times for the souls of those around us. Finally, we must become proficient at handing down our beliefs and values to our children and grandchildren by sharing our lives and our stories with them in creative ways. Family albums, personal notes and words of encouragement over lunch or coffee will bear much fruit. The battle for the souls of our children rages all around us, will we continue to ignore it or will we join the good fight of faith as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Your answer makes a difference that will count for all eternity.