Really at War – Really
26 November 2008
He, one man alone, with God’s aid repulsed innumerable hostile bands of demons making war against him, visible to his bodily eyes, and preparing to inflict deadly diseases upon his community of monks; and they were thrust back from this our principal island.
– Admomnan, Vita Columbae, Irish, 7th century
Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
– Revelation 12.17
Spiritual warfare is very real. It’s just that it’s not always very obvious. Columba had the benefit of what was called “second sight.” He could see spiritual realities more clearly than most of us do by looking at ordinary circumstances through eyes greatly steeped in the faith of Christ. A threat of plague to the island of Iona was, to Columba, not just an historical circumstance. Columba saw anything and everything that threatened the progress of the Gospel as a demonic strategy to thwart the Kingdom of Christ. And, whenever he sensed such threats, he turned to fervent prayer and other spiritual practices to protect his monks and their work from the ravages of the devil.
Most Christians live in two worlds rather than one. Columba lived in one. Most of us don’t see sickness, deprivation, everyday trials, and so forth as anything other than a nuisance or an inconvenience. I wonder: If we believed these were strategems of the devil, would we apply ourselves more earnestly in prayer and other spiritual exertions to overcome them? Be sure of this: when we begin living like true followers of Christ – loving Jesus, professing and proclaiming His Kingdom, and walking according to God’s Law – the climate of war will gather around us like never before. When that begins to happen, we’d better know how to pray, we’d better know how to persevere in obedience and witness, and we’d better have mastered the use of all the weapons of our warfare (Eph. 6.10-20). Otherwise, we’ll just be one more casualty among many whom the devil renders ineffectual in seeking the Kingdom because we have failed to recognized his wiles for what they are. Because, beloved, we are at war, we really are.
Lord, I need your strength, each day, to go beyond myself, my own abilities, my vision, in order to serve You as fully as possible – even in the face of Satan’s attacks – in the progress of Your Kingdom.
T. M. Moore