Wednesday, January 10

The Militancy of Worship - Part 1


"Spiritual Warfare" has brought with it a great many tags and bags in our day. For most, Hollywood has dictated our viewpoint of the "war" through cinematic exorcisms and demonic games played through pitiful plot lines. The Scriptures speak of a vastly deeper scene: the kingdom of light at war with the kingdom of darkness. And this is a war for all mankind to participate in, knowingly or unknowingly.

Even a casual reader of the gospels would admit that dealing with demons was as central to Jesus' ministry as healing the sick. And yet, his methodology in dealing with the kingdom of darkness seems too simplified for us. Quite simply, Christ spoke, and demons listened. He spoke with otherworldly authority because the posture of Jesus' heart was poised militantly towards his Father's heart.

In this lengthier-than-normal post, I will not highlight all the various manifestations or methods that Christians have used in spiritual warfare. Although I have had many experiences with demons--particularly at night--I don't intend to speak of them here. Instead, I'm interested in highlighting worship as the most militant aspect of spiritual warfare, whether we stand for Christ and his kingdom, or we stand for ourselves.

Christians tend to speak as if worship is something branded by them. Much to the contrary, worship is not limited to the Christian who sits in the Sunday pews. Worship is a condition and posture of the heart. We worship that which we give the greatest attention and allegiance of our hearts. Many would look at the landscape of American Christianity and wonder if we have our attention fixated first on our own comfort and safety, rather than on the rebel Jesus of Nazareth. (But that's a post for another day.)

I would argue that who or what we worship is the only important methodology in spiritual warfare. Indeed, the attention of our hearts is the most significant act of militancy for either one kingdom, or the other. God will not override our wills. The free-response of our will is the most potent thing we have in this life. What we choose to focus our hearts on is a violent act in both the natural and supernatural realm.

King David of Israel is known as being a warrior, poet, and shepherd-boy. I see him as a militant worshiper. Before David ever picked up his sling and faced Goliath, he was militant. And before David ever picked up the harp, he was a worshiper.

1 Samuel 13 records that David was a man after God's own heart. David's will and attention was defiantly positioned towards God. In chapter 16, the Spirit of the Lord is said to "come upon David," as Samuel anoints him as the future king of Israel. Shortly thereafter, young David is called upon by the present-king Saul to, simply, play his harp near, that the music would bring relief to the spiritually tormented Saul. Indeed, the sounds from David's Spirit-anointed fingers drove away the spirit that tormented the evil king.

In the following chapter, we find the young shepherd boy reaching for a few stones and a sling to defeat the Goliath monster. David defeated Goliath, not because he was a great warrior, but because his worship was militant. Like Moses in Exodus 14:14, David knew the great secret: "The battle is the Lord's." And his heart was violently poised towards his Lord.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked passages in spiritual warfare is 1 Samuel 15:22-23, when Samuel rebukes Saul for his negligent obedience to the Lord, though Saul had done a great many "worshipful actions." To Saul, he'd sung the songs all right:

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He also has rejected you from being king.”

Witchcraft? Idolatry? I thought those were things relegated to the neo-pagans! Here we see, most pointedly, the militancy of obedience, and the militancy of disobedience. For Saul, it cost him the kingdom. For us, perhaps it is no different. The allegience of our hearts empowers one kingdom or the other, in militant worship.

I will continue on in this subject in Part II - Worship in Song as the 2nd Most Potentially Militant Expression.

Check out all the many-varied and excellent thoughts on Spiritual Warfare in this Synchro Blog #2:
Phil Wyman - Pagans, Witches, and Spiritual Warfare
John Smulo - Portraits of Spiritual Warfare
Mike Crockett - Sufism: How the
Inner Jihad relates to Christian Spiritual Warfare

Steve Hayes - Thoughts on Spiritual Warfare
Marieke Schwartz - Grace in War
Cindy Harvey - Spiritual Warfare
Mike Bursell - Spiritual Warfare: a liberal looking inwards
David Fisher - Spiritual
Warfare: Does it have to be loud and wacky?

Brian Heasley - Something from Ibiza via Ireland
Webb Kline - Webb Kline's Blog
Sally Coleman - Sally Coleman's Blog
Mike Murrow - Mike Murrow's Blog

(Thanks to Wikipedia for Mel's Militant pose.)

9 comments:

John Smulo said...

Hey Jenelle,

Good stuff, look forward to reading more of your blog!

Steve Hayes said...

The allegience of our hearts empowers one kingdom or the other, in militant worship.

Yes, I think that gets to the heart of the matter.

Pastor Phil said...

Jenelle,

I love your writing style. Nice post which indeed gets to the heart of the matter. The problem with gettng to the heart of the matter is that we are always left with some inner transforming work which needs to occur.

Darn, can't someone give us just a one, two, three list to help us overcome by? ;-)

Cindy Harvey said...

"I would argue that who or what we worship is the only important methodology in spiritual warfare. Indeed, the attention of our hearts is the most significant act of militancy for either one kingdom, or the other. God will not override our wills. The free-response of our will is the most potent thing we have in this life. What we choose to focus our hearts on is a violent act in both the natural and supernatural realm."

Definitely! I love the idea that our choices are where true warfare takes place. Great post :o)

David said...

Sweet post!
Worship is such a key that sometimes we miss in the 'heat of battle' so to speak.
Can you imagine William Wallace stopping to sing?

mikeofearthsea said...

Worship is one of the best ways to change ones heart (speaking from my perspective). If my heart is steadfast in the Lord, difficult tasks of the Kingdom don't seem quite so difficult. Good stuff.

-moes

carl said...

yup.. there is definately something powerful about music when it's used as an expression of worship. Paul and Silas in jail is another example that comes to mind(I think they were singing?). I often wonder if they just complained and pouted would they ever of been freed by the angel. I doubt it.

The most powerful times that I have been changed by God is when I have been worshipping. Who says that can't happen externally as well?

can't wait for the next one!

Sally said...

Thanks Jenelle- good stuff... as Steve has said- you take us to the heart of the matter- where our hearts are!

jenelle said...

Thanks for all of the encouragement, folks.

Carl, you're walking into my next post already with that Paul and Silas bit! They were singing praises to God in their chains and at midnight there was a timely earthquake. There are lots of other Biblical examples of nature quaking when ordinary folk turn their hearts towards God in worship. I think it speaks to this "war" whose term has been abused and confused a great deal.