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October 20, 2021

Spiritual warfare is far less spooky than you think 👻

What is spiritual warfare, really? We think it may be far more boring and ordinary than you might think. When you repent and apologize, commit to repairing your relationships, when you work against the conflict and tensions that divide you from the people in your life—that’s spiritual warfare.
In this episode, Heather and Jamie talk about spiritual warfare as the act of resolving conflict in your life. Check it out!


Spiritual warfare is far more practical than you think.

Acts 6v1-7 tells the story of the first conflict in the church, and guess what, it’s about food. We can’t say we blame the folks in the story, food is a serious matter. Here’s what’s happening, two different groups of people have just come together to create the first church. And one of the groups believes that their widows are not receiving the same amount of food as the other group. Complaints start, conflict arises.

Check out how the early church leaders solve the problem:

The first conflict in the church.

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. 

Spiritual Warfare = Resolving Conflict.

Conflict can be seen as a detour or a bridge. The Apostles built a bridge here and it was a bridge that led the church into the future.

The way that the first church leaders in this story solve the problem is our glimpse into the practicality of Spiritual Warfare. You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with Spiritual Warfare? They’re just solving a problem.” Check out what Paul says about the spiritual side of our world in Ephesians:

“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 6v12 ESV

When we fight against division in our relationships we fight against the rulers of darkness.  In Acts 6, spiritual warfare looks like building a bridge between people that disagree with one another.

Look at how they solved the conflict:
  • They addressed it immediately
  • Gathered everyone involved
  • Listened and looked for solutions
  • Grew the community

1. Spiritual Warefare = Addressing conflict immediately

The first lesson this story teaches us about spiritual warfare is to solve conflict immediately. The early church leaders didn’t leave the issue unresolved, they didn’t say “Meh! No big deal. Just get over it.” They worked together to resolve the conflict.

It’s easy to avoid conflict, but what happens when you wait to resolve it?

  • You create a narrative.
  • Build resentment.
  • Create a resistance.

The first church leader knew something we all need to know: Small issues left unresolved hold you back from what God has for you.

SMALL ISSUES LEFT UNRESOLVED WILL KEEP YOU FROM GOD’S PROMISES.

Have you experienced small conflicts left unresolved? We wonder how many people leave churches because of a small offense that could have been worked through? How many relationships have ended after years of leaving small things unresolved?

2. Spiritual warfare = Gathering everyone involved

When you’re experiencing conflict do you talk to everyone but the other person involved? It’s hard, but do your very best to honor the people in your life by talking to them (not others) about how your conflict first.

BUILD A BRIDGE NOT A NARRATIVE.

When you talk to everyone but the people involved in the conflict you end up building a false narrative. Have you ever done that? Where you go, “Oh, I bet they we’re thinking this” or “their intention was definitely this.” When you wait to resolve conflict and instead replay a conversation over and over, you build a false narrative and make it that much harder to resolve the tension.

3. Spiritual Warefare = Listening and looking for solutions

Have you ever showed up to a conversation ready to fight? We all have. It’s easy to listen and look for ways we’ve been wronged and never seek to understand.
BUILD EMPATHY, NOT RESENTMENT.
Instead of building resentment, work to build empathy for the other people involved. Listen and look for solutions. Look at what the early church leaders did in Acts chapter 6, they didn’t tell the group of Hellenistic Jews, “You’re crazy! I can’t believe you’re complaining, look at everything we’ve done for you.” Nope. Instead, they listened to their complaints and looked for solutions.
Ask yourself: “Do I want to be right or do I want a relationship?” If your focus is on finding ways that you’re right in the argument, we’re sure you’ll find tons of examples. Likewise, if your focus is on finding ways to better your relationships, we’re sure you’ll find those too. 😉

Side note: You need to run from discontentment

Division and conflict don’t just come from the outside, they also come from the inside. Discontentment can arise within us out of nowhere, leaving you wondering if life could be better without someone.
DISCONTENTMENT BREEDS DIVISION
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that just left you angry at a person in your life? Maybe your spouse doesn’t live up to the spouse in the book, or the best friend was way more fun than your best friend. What is that? It’s discontentment. Be wary of discontentment, it breeds division and conflict.
It’s easy to see conflict and opposition around you as the work of the Enemy. But know this: our enemy’s primary goal isn’t to destroy what’s “out there,” it’s to destroy what’s “in you.”

Look at your social media, the movies you watch, podcasts and music you listen to, books you read, and people you hang out with. Are they pushing you toward discontentment and stirring up a bad attitude? Are they pushing you away from loving your neighbor? We can’t urge you enough, run from the things that stir up discontentment in you.

4. Build your community

When you love others well in times of conflict you show the people in your community the character of Jesus. You build the community of Jesus when you resolve conflict.

The story of the first conflict in the church ends like this:

This proposal pleased the whole group.  … So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” — Acts 6v5-7 NIV

In Acts 6, spiritual warfare looked like building a bridge between people that disagree with one another and we think it looks that way in our lives too. Conflict can be seen as a detour or a bridge – the Apostles built a bridge here and it was a bridge that led the church into the future.

Be a bridge-builder in your marriage, your relationship with your kids, your friendships, the way you interact with your brothers and sisters in the church—it’s spiritual warfare whether you know it or not!

Where is God calling you to build a bridge?  What conflict in your life right now is God wanting to use as an opportunity to remind Satan that he is a defeated foe? The Gospel has a tendency to multiply when the followers of Jesus handle conflict well. It’s a witness to the watching world that there is a power uniting us that is stronger than anything attempting to divide us.

Build bridges, build empathy, build the community.

Take a step.

Want to learn more about resolving conflict listen to:
Staying friends even when you disagree
How do you handle conflict?

COTMU

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