The current cultural and political chaos here, and around the world, can be utterly intimidating. It easily gives to us ordinary folks a sense of helplessness, … but this is because we tend to embrace an understanding of our present world scene that is quite unreal and un-Biblical. It is interesting that we, who are followers of Jesus Christ, regularly pray a prayer that begins with the petition that the Kingdom of the Holy God will come on earth, and that God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. Less often do we ask: “Exactly into what earthly context does this Kingdom/New Creation come?” That same prayer concludes with a petition that God will deliver us from the evil one. So, what is going on here? Answer: What is going on here and now is that, in Christ, God’s Kingdom is coming (has invaded) into the kingdoms of this world, and into this present dominion of darkness, … and our naïveté is shattered. This world scene, in whatever nation or ethnic group one resides, is never neutral.

We need to be reminded often that Jesus came out of the waters of baptism to spend forty days in the wilderness being tempted, during which time Satan, the god of this world, sought to seduce him to accomplish fame and popularity through human principalities and powers: through economic popularity, through political power, and through religious popularity. Jesus’ response to Satan was to reject all of these and to remind Satan that his own purpose in coming was to destroy Satan himself, and all of his works. Satan wanted to seduce Jesus away from his Messianic role which would be accomplished by a global reconciliation on the cross. The apostle John would later explain that: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” The apostle Paul gives us a graphic description of our own calling and its consequences: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against cosmic powers, over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”.

Paul concludes that passage describing the whole armor of God, which is to be the Christian’s daily dress, by saying that he/she is to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” Now this may be a bit much for my readers to ingest, … but there are a couple of realities that are seldom accepted easily in the secular context (and which infiltrate the Christian community) in which we operate, and they are: 1) the reality of Satan, and 2) the enormous effectiveness of prayer. Out tendency is to depend for our daily interpretation of events on the news journals. In those journals we are consumed by the vast power of the political, economic, and religious principalities and powers – political campaigns and majorities, the vast influence of the 1% of the wealthy, and by religious power-brokers. These have produced chaos globally.

In this chaos too few of us take seriously the reality of the great destroyer-Apollyon-Satanthe god of this world, … and too few of us believe in the awesome power of prayer. And yet it is these pieces of our awareness that Paul reminds us of: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (II Corinthians 10:4). And, if you are so motivated to know what those weapons are, you might check-in to the description of the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6. (I might as well refer you here to my own explication of this armor in a book of mine: The Church and the Relentless Darkness, p. 67 ff.) the final book of the Bible, that dramatic overview (what with all of its apocalyptic images) of the history of the church’s conflict with the forces of hell, it is interesting to note that it is the prayers of the persecuted saints under the altar (Revelation 6-8) that arise like incense to heaven and determine the true course of history. What are we to do in this present political chaos? Exercise the trustiest weapon of all: Prayer. Got it?

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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