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23 & 24 April 2022 (Pastoral Page) TAKING THE OFFENSIVE

By Dn Timothy Yeo

The Ukraine war for me has shone the spotlight on human frailty and the ongoing spiritual war that we each face daily. In the book, The Screwtape Letters, the devil advocates for his followers to tempt their ‘humans’ to be unconcerned about the atrocities of war lest they be challenged to rise up and become better individuals and by extension, grow closer to God. As a bystander reading of the ongoing war in a distant land, it is so easy to be lulled into a sense of indifference as we extrapolate this same attitude to the invisible spiritual war that we are part of.

I recently read an article which spotlighted the ingenuity of the Ukrainians in the ongoing war citing how cheap foam mats ($1.50/piece) were used to evade detection from Russian thermal imaging drones. These simple tools “shielded” human heat and allowed armed Ukrainians to move stealthily at night to perform hit-and-run tactics to slow the invaders.

Like the Ukrainians, we need to be armed with the right armor and weapons if we are to make meaningful headway against the evil one. Unlike a physical war however, the tools and tactics are clearly different but would fall into the same broad categories of Defense and Offense which will need to be honed by both discipline and constant practice.

Putting on the Full Armor of God (Defense and Offense). Ephesians 6:10-18 highlights that to be effective Christian warriors, we must (i) don the belt of truth, (ii) the breastplate of righteousness, (iii) with our feet fitted with readiness from the gospel of peace. (iv) shield of faith and (v) helmet of salvation. But the chapter does not end there and continues to highlight the need for the sword of the spirit (word of God). Like the Ukrainians, while on the one hand we are well protected with shields and armor, our other hand needs to be equipped to strike and go on the offense! The passage ends off with the power of prayer and asking of the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

On Discipline and Practice. In any army, training and discipline are central to military might – this is no different in God’s army. The Ukrainians had almost a decade to prepare for a subsequent attack after the annexation of Crimea. For most of us, myself included, the gap between being a Sunday Christian vs. a true believer lies in discipline and training of our spiritual muscle memory in the various tools that God has given to us to defend and attack.

Romans 13:11 reads “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” As you read this, you may be well past the spiritual high of Easter and back into your comfort zone in your walk with our Creator. I urge you, brothers and sisters to seize back both your time and influence from the Devil and rise up! Onward Christian soldiers!

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