The Charlie Hebdo killings hit a little too close to home for me. I worked for seven years in the comics industry. I was never a professional journalist, but it’s near to my heart. When I read about the killings in Paris, I was chilled. First, because freedom of expression is stained with blood. Everything I’ve known for the last several years is under attack. Second, because this is war. I don’t just mean between journos and extremists, satirists and jihadists. Evil is mounting. Can you feel it? There is something chilling about Ferguson and its aftermath, about Charlie Hebdo, even about the Sony hack, that goes beyond just the human component.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)
It’s on this kind of battlefield that I fight to love Jesus more than I love the idea of marriage. To treasure Jesus more than I treasure even the best and godliest of friendships. To desire to see God glorified more than I desire to see myself glorified. That every day, I have to beg the Lord, Make me strong for this fight. I cannot do this without You.
My heart hurts this morning. I realize it’s not just Christians who are under attack on the surface — a Muslim policeman was among those killed on January 7, and hostages were taken at a kosher supermarket — but I do believe the terrorism we’re witnessing is but a shadow of the cosmic battle between good and evil. More specifically, between the powers of Heaven and the forces of hell. And for those of us who do call on God as Father, we’re conscripted into that battle. Our weapons may not be manhunts, no-fly lists or guns. We fight on our knees in prayer — for God’s Name to be made great; for strength and endurance to put to death the things that would lure us away from our sweet Savior and from each other (“Be killing sin,” John Owen said, “or it will be killing you.”); for the encouragement and perseverance of our brothers and sisters all over the world who are watching the cosmic battle unfold in front of their very eyes.
Prayer is the battlefield. We love the imagery of the armor of God. Of suiting up to head into battle for our King. But after we’ve put everything on and taken up our swords, we’re instructed to be:
… praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:18-20, ESV)
My biggest fear for 2015 and beyond is not so much ISIS or whether our personal freedoms will be taken away (though those do make me nervous!). My biggest fear is that we’ll become complacent. That we’ll choose comfort and reputation over proclaiming the truth. That we will love ourselves and our safety more than we love and cherish our God. That we will forget that we are engaged in battle every day, or that we’ll whittle the battle down to merely fighting the sin in ourselves and neglect the reality of the outside spiritual forces of darkness.
I think that’s just what Satan would like us to do — forget he exists, forget he’s still slithering around, inciting terrorism, hissing in our ears to get us to leave the God we love. After all, we can’t fight an enemy we don’t remember exists. If we don’t fight him, Satan’s got the advantage. And we love God too much to pretend His enemy, and therefore ours, isn’t real. Our mighty, powerful and warrior King is not Don Quixote, tilting at windmills, and neither are we.
Make us strong for the fight, Lord. Make us brave. And come quickly, Lord Jesus. Come. Quickly.