Ephesians 6:12 says that our enemy is not “flesh and blood” but “principalities and powers and spirits of darkness in high places”. (Marchauna’s modified version). The oversimplified way of saying that in 21st Century English is…people are not our enemies.
I’ve been at marriage conferences where the speakers instructed everyone to look at their spouse and say “You are not my enemy”. It is very therapeutic, actually. Speakers at parenting conferences could probably say the same thing…children (if you have them) are not the enemy…no matter how much it may feel like they are.
It is very difficult to remember, when you are dealing with people who very much “feel” like the enemy, who the enemy really is. People hurt us, either intentionally or by accident. Kind of like the Matrix, we live in a world where almost anyone can be used by the evil one.
Recognizing the enemy, however, isn’t so easy. Another picture that I’ve found helpful has to do with puppets. Let me explain…
If you go to a puppet show and the puppet slaps you in the face, you don’t get mad at the puppet. You know the problem is with the puppeteer. And if you get insulted by a “dummy” you don’t get mad at the puppet, you get mad at the puppeteer (aka the ventriloquist). You realize the puppet isn’t the one responsible for the behavior you are experiencing; the puppeteer is.
That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that it doesn’t hurt to get slapped by a puppet, figurative or otherwise. It does. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t affected by what the actions of the puppets. You are. What it means is you focus your angst and frustration appropriately. Cover your mouth…don’t speak…and sit on your hands…don’t act. Remember who the real enemy is and what the weapons of our warfare are. 2 Corinthians 10:4 talks about our weapons, that they are spiritual not “carnal” (or “worldly”, according to the NLT) and that they can tear down strongholds! Now those are some serious weapons.
But what does it look like to wield our spiritual weapons? Take some practice, that’s for sure. And we can’t react to the puppets. We have to step back, take a deep breath, and ask God for help. Cru has a fantastic resource that can help you respond rather than react. It’s called “Spirit-filled living”. Check out the link…that can make a huge difference in how you respond to spiritual warfare.
Another really insightful picture of spiritual warfare is from the recent Dreamworks blockbuster, How to Train Your Dragon 2. Hiccup’s best friend (who happens to be a dragon called Toothless) is overpowered by the influence of “the Alpha”, a dragon whose control can not be resisted. Under the influence of the Alpha, Toothless kills Hiccup’s father (and clan chief) Stoick. When Toothless comes to his senses, he is confused and goes over to Stoick’s lifeless body only to be rejected and sent away by a very distraught Hiccup. With incredible wisdom, Valka (Stoick’s long lost wife and Hiccup’s long lost mother) makes a profound statement, “Good dragons, under the influence of bad people, do bad things”.
It is also true that good people, under the influence of a bad dragon, do bad things…and when they do, we have a choice.
Are we going to react out of our hurt and anger?
Are we going to get mad at the puppet…or save our angst for the puppeteer?
Are we going to respond with grace? Or are we going to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, and use our weapons effectively.