You can read the first three parts starting here.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Our “fight” as Christian Soldiers in Spiritual Warfare is “submitting” to Christ. It’s about how we live in and through Christ and how we manifest that living in our daily lives upon the earth as ambassadors to His kingdom. As this verse in Hebrews says, we fix our eyes on Christ, consider the opposition from sinners that he received, and don’t grow weary and give up. We “run the race” (1 Cor 9:24, 2 Tim 4:7). And…..
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. (2 Timothy 2:1-7)
There is a lot to reflect on in these scriptures! As Christian animal welfarists, we can glean much needed strength and encouragement by reflecting on them often and perhaps committing them to memory.
Be intentional at learning these habits for living life – an athlete does not win the race without much training; his life is centered on the goal of winning the race. Our goal is on living a Kingdom life for others to see; we don’t get entangled in “civilian affairs” – we don’t conform to the ways of the world, the culture (Rom 12:2); as animal advocates, we learn to become “qualified to teach others” a proper perspective on the animal kingdom. We reflect on what is being said in the scriptures and ask the Lord to give you insight!
How we live, treat the earth/the animal kingdom (what’s on our plate, too), is an important message to all those we live around and interact with about our kingdom values. A Jesus looking way of life is our goal. Even though we may not find a Christian animal welfare group in our home town, when we get involved in secular animal welfare, we bring these values and practices with us into our work with them. If and when something happens that does not “fit” a Christian lifestyle, before the knee-jerk reaction, if we’ve trained well, we are prepared to stop and pray for the right responses. These moments may be Kingdom moments, an opportunity to reach someone for Christ, and for certain, these are teaching Kingdom moments for proper Jesus looking animal welfare advocacy!
Think of Spiritual Warfare as “sowing seeds.” Everything we think, say or do, is a seed, whether we realize it or not. Sow good seeds in thought – “whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, praiseworthy, think on these things” (Phil 4:8). It is so important to “take our thoughts captive to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) for this is where we create and shape our environment. Cultures, governments, societies – all created from a single thought and built upon.
This verse in Corinthians also says “we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” – know the truth of God’s nature, Who God is; it is so important to be “good soldiers of Christ,” know who our Boss is – our “Commanding Officer” – to know who we are in Christ, to know the authority over evil that He has given us and to exercise it.
As my friend Marcello says: “God has provided for us (in many ways) through the provision of the cross. In particular through the cross Jesus took upon himself all curses including the curse of creation: Deuteronomy 21:23 and especially Galatians 3:13. Jesus’ crown of thorns signifies that he took upon himself the curse of Genesis 3:18. As Christians we must apply Christ’s victory; if we do not apply God’s victory through faith, in a certain sense it will not be used. The cross of Christ is our basis for prayer, supplications and Spiritual Warfare. It’s like God has provided a bank account but if we don’t cash our “cheques” they won’t be used. The degree to which we have faith is the degree to which Christ’s victory will be enforced. “
Fasting is a tool of Spiritual Warfare we can exercise authority over evil in. Casting out the devil is another – tell Satan to get himself away from you, your families, your pets, the animal kingdom – wherever you see evil being done – rebuke Satan directly, tell him to “get behind you” – just as Christ rebukes Peter and tells him not to listen to the devil. Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
Also, despite what some Christians may say, know the truth – God loves the animals. He did not give them to us to do what we want with or to be tyrants over – He committed them into our hands because He may not have had a choice (does God always get His way? No, He doesn’t – see this blog post):
- He gave us dominion over animals before the fall; we were set in the garden of Eden to care for the earth/animals and protect them from evil (see these earlier posts). When we fell from Grace, we handed over our dominion to Satan and it has been a fight since for God to woe us back to Him. He had to flood the earth to rid it of a race of people who were no longer reachable. His heart was “deeply grieved” that He created us and it pained Him greatly to destroy what He had made (Gen 6:6).
- After the flood, there wasn’t much vegetation, while also, in the verses prior to God “putting the fear” of us into animals, he acknowledges that “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” (Gen 8:21). So He gave us the animals for food, most probably as a concession (and perhaps only temporarily), with many stipulations on their care and use. For more on the flood and why, read the account here.
More on the seeds of Spiritual Warfare: Ros said much about the seeds Christians are often sowing in Parts One and Two of her posts “Listen and Speak” and how animal welfarists are affected by what are often seeds of untruth – especially that of misrepresenting the totality of the Love of Christ for ALL He has created. God expects us to care for creation as those “being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Col 3:8-10).” Ros lists things Christians can do instead to sow the Word of God into animal welfare efforts.
We can sow the seed of encouragement as Spiritual Warfare: “ And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (emphasis mine)” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
This passage explicitly mentions “meeting together,” that we do not give up doing this – we need each other!
- We can do this virtually via these blog posts;
- We can form Christian animal welfare groups in our communities by finding other like-minded folks who also want to bring about the Lord’s Kingdom on earth through advocacy for His animals;
- We continue to meet at our church buildings regardless of their stance on animal welfare; He is calling us to bring this message to the world, including the church! Remember what Christ endured all the way to and including the cross; press on towards the goal, run the race so that you can say like Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7-8)
- Encourage wherever and whenever possible other Christian folks to begin including animal welfare as part of the message of Christ to us;
- Teach others that His death on the cross was for ALL creation, His covenant is with ALL creation. As Ros says, “We, too must remind our fellow worshipers that we animal welfarists are not a bunch of sympathetic eccentrics who prefer compassion to cruelty and indifference. Compassion is born of a love which is indivisible.”
- Meeting together creates community, comradeship, a sense of purpose; it can challenge us to be more of whom God wants us to be when we meet while intentionally acknowledging Christ as the head of our gathering (Ephesians 4:16). Go here for a treasure cove of what the Bible says about gathering together!
Remember that “our rewards are in heaven!” (Matthew 5:12) As in the days of the early church, when we follow Christ we can expect persecution. We expect to see evil against the weaker, the down trodden, the poor and voiceless – the animal kingdom, too – and it is ALL of these that we are commissioned to stand up for even in the face of adversity to ourselves; it is a self-sacrificial love that we are to display to the world just as “Christ gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering” (Eph 5:2) for a people who could deserve it less! Those of us who stand on truth can expect that “in this world we will have trouble.” (John 16:33)
We are “ambassadors for the Lord.” What is an ambassador? The English dictionary says:
- A diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign state to another as its resident representative
- A diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by a government to represent it on a temporary mission, as for negotiating a treaty
- A diplomatic official serving as permanent head of a country’s mission … or some other international organization
- An authorized messenger/representative
When we accept Christ, we are accepting the commission to be His ambassadors. So as ambassadors, “Stand your ground, and after you have done everything” – spoken the Word in truth, stood for kindness to animals, stood for right-relatedness to them, acted on behalf of God and insist the churches take up animal welfare (for some examples) – “after you have done everything, to stand.”
Next week we’ll discuss the passage in Ephesians on putting on the armour of God, which the above paragraph in “standing our ground” is about.
I said last week I’d conclude with this post; however, the topic has proven too important to skimp on what the Lord seems to be leading me to discuss. There will be another post on this next week, so stay tuned for, perhaps and most likely, the conclusion to this topic!! Thank you for following us and reading this post – your comments welcome! ~Kathy