Through Jesus, "God reconciled everything to himself." Through Jesus, God "disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities."
These two powerful verses come from the book of Colossians. There's much more in these opening two chapters that give us great context and understanding, but these two verses stand out to me, and I can't go past them.
I love the Bible, and I love to study it. I have been reading and studying it for many years, but somehow, these two verses went under my radar. I wish I had known them years ago when I was in the deep end of spiritual warfare, and they had got me rethinking the way I pray for people. You see, I have fought for people in prayer and felt like I daily battled the spiritual principalities that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6. Now, I'm not denying their existence, but what I had been denying was that they were already defeated. And when I say defeated, these verses show us they were completely disarmed 2000 years ago by what Jesus did for us on that cross.
Why, then, are there so many theologies on fighting spiritual wars and so little on understanding the magnitude of what Jesus accomplished for each of us so that we could live free? Free from spiritual curses, free from religion and law, free to live as we were designed to live. I do not think Jesus died for us so that we could stay living in a warzone. I think he died for us to show us how powerful his love is.
So again, why do I think so much of Christianity focuses on the battles we live in rather than the love we were designed for?
The answer to this is longer than a blog, but let me suggest that we have learned more about how to fight rather than how to love. From a young age, we learn from the generations that have gone before us. We learn how to do relationships from them. We learn how to love ourselves from them. We learn how to love God from them. We have learned about God through them. Some of us have discovered God through these theologies, and others through other people's understanding of God. What would it look like to learn all of these for ourselves? What would it look like to learn this through a lens of love rather than warfare?
Some of us have been taught that hearing God is hard, and trusting what he says to us is even harder. Is this really our design? Is this really what Jesus taught us through the faith of a child?
In the culture we find ourselves in, I have discovered that survival is what marks so many of us. Those of us in "ministry" are often told that burnout and heartbreak are a part of the calling we have followed. It's the burden we bear or the cost we count. We talk about how resilient we are or what we have overcome, but we fail to understand the years of pain that often mark the journey of resilience. Surely, we were designed for more than survival.
At the recent retreat we hosted in Minnesota, I watched as a young girl with down-syndrome vocalized in one of our meetings. Her mother told us how unique this is in community, and that she would only ever do this when she felt safe. As I sat and allowed her testimony to settle in my spirit, I once again felt the Spirit of God speak into my spirit of how simple this life was designed to be. If this young girl could so easily feel and express the love, then so should we all. There was no battle being fought for her voice. There was no curse preventing her from expressing herself; she was free, and in turn, we were invited to join with her in that freedom.
Years past, I would have asked the parent to take the child out so the adults could talk. But now I realize how damaging that was not just to the parent or the child, but also to the community. You see, I have found a strange phenomenon occurs when voices get suppressed, shut down, or removed. It is then that authority becomes something that is coveted. We then fight for our voices to be heard, and we fight for them to be respected. It may not seem much to you, but to me, to take a child's voice from a community is to open the door for other voices to be suppressed or removed. When authority is coveted, that is when warfare becomes seen. That is when the great of Jesus' love becomes secondary. That is when the church looks to learn more about victory than love.
So, what does it look like to declare the war is over? What does it look like to live in the freedom Jesus gave us all those years ago? May I suggest we sit with the five-year-olds and discover the joy of the safe places where God's love and our love can manifest.
For me, this is not a theory. It is now a work in progress.