Spiritual Warfare and the Animal Kingdom, Part Five

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Quote Courtesy Timeline Photos

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Quote
Courtesy Timeline Photos

This series started with the news story about the little white dog Guero who lost his life because the police officer who arrested his human caregiver and the tow truck operator abandoned his little nearly blind dog by a busy road, which led to a series of questions that the Christian animal welfarist faces.

In conclusion, we’ll take a look at the questions asked earlier in the series, then summarize the attempts to address the questions.  This all in light of the scripture passage on putting on the whole armor of God:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,  for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

I have come to view the above passages in Ephesians as the spiritual clothing needed in the morning before beginning the day, which needs to remain secured throughout the day:

  • Be strong in His mighty power:  Whatever the day brings, face it in His power, look evil in the face, stand strong, don’t shirk from evil being done to others, in particular the voiceless – stand up for them and protect them;
  • Our struggle is not against flesh and blood:  Satan is the enemy.  Though people may make evil choices, it is ultimately the perpetrator that is also a victim.
  • Having done everything, to stand:  We don’t fight, or wield a sword – we stand.…in the face of evil, for good, as the copy of Jesus the world needs to see; living our lives on principles of the Kingdom of God; living a Kingdom life now as though the Kingdom were already here – toward people, animals and the earth.
  • Put on the belt of truth:  This was a very important piece of the Roman Soldier’s armor. This wide belt was the holder for a lot of the soldiers equipment.  Much of the weaponry/protection depended on the belt being in place properly.  We use the word of God as our belt of truth, it is the foundation on which to base our warfare with the enemy. The soldier’s belt held things in place for the battle; the truth of God’s word does the same for us.
  • Breastplate of righteousness in place:  The breastplate protected the soldier’s heart.  The breastplate was attached to the belt by thongs which passed through rings on the bottom to keep it in place.  Truth is essential to protecting our hearts.  Keep a short account with God; make taking your thoughts captive to Jesus a priority in your life as part of keeping your heart a clean and ready temple for the Lord’s purposes.
  • Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace:  The Roman Soldier’s footwear had spikes on the soles which provided a strong stance, superior balance and posture in battle on hills and uneven terrain.  For us, the Gospel of peace (our lives lived are to be all about peace in all we do) will help us to stand with our feet planted firmly on the Word of God, unmoved by the devil’s threats and lies.
  • The shield of faith:  The Roman soldier’s shield protected them from a barrage of arrows.  In spiritual warfare, the soldier’s shield stands for our faith in the promises of God.  The value of faith lies in the person whom the faith is in.  Faith is something we all possess and use every day.  Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”  Knowing the Bible and the God of the Bible will give us greater faith.  God fights with us – Matthew 10:28 tells us not to fear those that can kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; “but rather fear Him that is able to destroy both soul and body.”
  • Helmet of salvation:  The Roman helmet protects from various angles of attack.  For our battle as Christians, the greatest battlefield is in our minds.  Paul gave some good advice in Philippians 4:8 – to think on whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.  We must be on guard on what we let run free in our minds – Satan is very subtle – he has blinded the world and he will do the same to unsuspecting or careless Jesus followers.  Keep a clear mind to be discerning in all situations.  This comes by immersing ourselves in God’s word and in prayer.
  • Sword of the Spirit:  The sword that Paul talks about was one of five that the Roman’s used, a double-edged sword.  It could cut in two directions; it was particularly lethal and would inflict a deadly wound when penetrating the opponents body by just two or three inches.  Paul likens the Word of God in Hebrews 4:12 as being “alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  The Father’s words are powerful – He spoke and created the heavens and the earth!  Jesus spoke His Father’s words with authority, and has given us the same authority as His ambassadors.
  • Praying in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests:  I do not know a lot about praying in tongues, though it is a gift of the Spirit that some people are given.  Prayer is more than sitting or kneeling and ritualistically praying and asking for things for others and ourselves, though this is part of it.  Prayer is always about talking to God.  God want us to come to Him in everything.  We can wrestle with God in our prayers, He wants us to bring our requests and concerns to Him.  Greg Boyd has spoken a lot about prayer as well as unanswered prayer.  Here is one sermon that is highly worth the time to listen to; the ReKnew website also has some great information about unanswered prayer here.  (A website where some of these armor insights were taken from here)

Myself, I work at being in the habit of talking to God throughout the day about everything.  I ask Him (mostly silently) to bless people I see.  Whenever I think of the animal kingdom, I talk with God about them, ask Him to bless them.  I rebuke Satan and his influence over others, including the animal kingdom.  None of us are perfect; we all have bad days and I’m no exception; I fall short more than I want to.  The key is to never give up – keep on asking for His help, keep on learning and growing, moving closer to the Lord through prayer.

Much of our prayer life results are happening underground – in ways that we may not see the fruits of.  As Greg says  – things hangs in the balance on whether or not God’s people pray, that nothing of Kingdom value happens outside of prayer.  I don’t understand it entirely, and I may not need to.  I just need to do it – to be faithful to Him.  He wants to bring about His kingdom on earth through us.  Not everything depends on us of course, but some things do – He has given us authority over evil, for example; as my friend Marcello said, we have a Spiritual bank account given to us through Christ’s work on the cross, but we have to use it.  I am learning and growing myself in this area.  I never want to stop learning and growing in my faith!

Sometimes prayer has no words – like today, it is a sense of sadness that I am sharing with the Lord in reaction to news of a bear that was shot by a friend of mine.  Some days, the prayer that has no words is about a sense of joy over God’s wonderful works, a joyful kingdom like event that I was witness to.  The point of prayer is to be in communication with God and make Him your closest companion.

The Questions:  Go here to view them again.    Insights:   There isn’t cut and dry answers to most of the questions.   Keep on praying, asking God for answers/insight, for “revelation of truth” for all of us – especially church leaders – and to be given a worldview that includes the animal kingdom.   Join us at Not One Sparrow prayer group; gather others together that you can find in your community and hold a fast or prayer vigil:

  • Everything we do, think, or say is something we are “sowing”; ask God for visions of the Kingdom life to be lived out now and “sow” them (do, think, say, teach, act on, move towards those goals and visions he gives you); pray that the seeds you sow fall on fertile soil
  • Ask the Lord that God’s people make Him the priority
  • Be grateful for the place you are planted – “Find you own Calcutta!”  (Mother Teresa)
  • Do all for God (Col 3:23,24; fruit of the spirit Gal 5:22,23)
  • Ask the Lord to transform God’s people by the renewing of their minds (Rom 12:2)
  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers, He wants to bring about His Kingdom through us (Matt 9:38) – some things cannot happen unless they happen through us; be a harvest worker yourself
  • Intentionally practice joy as spiritual warfare for what He has done for us and will continue to do and that one day He will completely restore His creation to it’s original purposes
  • Live in conversation with the Lord
  • Be intentional, diligent, consistent, passionate for the Lord in your ministry for animals
  • Ask the Lord for all of us to see what He sees, to break our hearts for what breaks His
  • Think on how Paul’s words in Ephesians on the armor of God might apply to your life, your animal advocacy, your voice to your church and others on the issues of proper biblical stewardship of the earth and animal kingdom
  • Leave judgments about people to God (Rom 12:19, Duet 32:35).  “Above all, put on love.”  (Col 3:14)  Love is our ultimate weapon in Spiritual Warfare
  • The more we can act in accordance with God’s perfect will for all of His creation, the more we bring about God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven”
  • We are His eyes, ears, voice, feet and hands; speak up for what is right, biblical – bear up under the strain of what we see and know – our rewards are in heaven
  • Our ultimate comfort in all of the questions that were asked is that “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3
  • We no longer follow the patterns of this world but are set apart from it (the culture is one of those patterns) – we look and act differently than the world around us; we are known by our love for each other, the earth and animal kingdom
  • Ask yourself, “What kind of a consumer am I?
  • Go to your church leaders; speak the truth about what is happening to God’s creation; write them letters; insist on proper theological stewardship to be taught and ministries created to serve the animal kingdom
  • Keep the Sabbath:  “Sabbath, in the first instance, is not about worship. It is about work stoppage. It is about withdrawal from the anxiety system of Pharaoh, the refusal to let one’s life be defined by production and consumption and the endless pursuit of private well-being.” – Walter Brueggemann
  • Put on the whole armor of God!
  • Never give up!
  • God’s people need to pray!
  • Our “fight” in Spiritual Warfare is “submitting” to Christ; live in and through Christ, manifest the Kingdom through daily living upon the earth as ambassadors to Christ
  • Utilize the Spiritual Warfare tool of fasting
  • Know the truth – God loves the animals!  Stand on this truth
  • Sow the seed of encouragement as Spiritual Warfare
  • Psalm 16:8:  We keep our eyes always on the LORD; He is our power
  • Be watchful, ready, guard our hearts and tongues
  • We take our emotions to the Lord – when we see horrific things happening through video or read news stories about horrific things happening to animals, take it to the Lord in prayer – for the perpetrator, the victims, and, protection of the animal kingdom, for God’s light and love to shine into that particular darkness
  • It’s okay to feel the pain of what is happening to His creatures, in fact, why wouldn’t we?  Jesus needs people willing to go into the depths to bring His light and love to the world including animals; we are His viceroys, messengers, ambassadors; it is our particular burden or “cross” but we don’t carry it in our own strength.  Jesus carried the pain and weight of the whole world and then we crucified Him.  We are not suppose to carry the weight – that’s the whole point – we take the weight to Him and allow Him to carry it, and then turn and look evil in the face once again – in His strength we look evil in the face, in His strength we don’t give up, we stand up to evil – we need not be afraid to look evil in the face for Jesus is with us
  • If we are unsure how to pray, we ask God to teach us; Jesus prays on our behalf, too
  • Prayer is talking to God; there isn’t a magic formula; be ourselves and talk to Him (for a good read on this struggle some of us have in wrestling with God in prayer, read Benefit of the Doubt)
  • It isn’t our job to fix the world; it is our job to be faithful to God’s voice in our lives, and to make a difference in a world that needs love, mercy, and kindness that we may win that world for Christ – be the copy of Christ the world needs to see
  • The path to destruction is wide, but narrow the gate to life (Matt 7:13); we don’t seek our own comfort now but bear in mind our reward is in heaven; it is a self sacrificial life we live now for Christ and the kingdom
  • We reflect the character of Christ in our own lives – spend time with the Lord, we allow Him to change us from the inside out, it is not called the fruit of the Spirit for nothing – of ourselves we cannot develop this fruit
  • Read and reflect on His Word, commit helpful scripture to memory, for this is how we are “transformed by the renewing of our minds”
  • If we are seeking to be free from pain and sorrow, to live a comfortable life, then something is amiss; for as we go to the places where there is pain and sorrow to bring life to the world – the life of Christ – we find God and are able to “do all things through Christ Who strengthens us”
  • May we learn to cast out Satan in our lives, for it is our job to do so
  • Be a good Samaritan and “cross over” whenever possible; rescue whenever possible; don’t buy “pets” or support an industry that should not sell God’s creatures in the first place
  • We steer clear of militancy; the church is already gun-shy of animal welfare activists due to the extreme view of some, albeit a very small portion in reality

Reflections on what Bonhoeffer said:  “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:  God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.”

Sometimes, standing in the face of evil is to speak up about it; other times, standing up to evil will be about remaining silent.  Sometimes, “not to act” will be the act against evil itself, and sometimes, it will be to speak up; but we are never to repay violence with violence – Jesus’ way to fight evil was always non-violent.  Think about it.  Pray about it.

GOD BLESS THE ANIMAL KINGDOM THROUGH US!  Amen!

 

Thank you for reading and for following us!  Your thoughts are always welcome!  Stay tuned for “Is Vegetarianism Biblical?” by Marcello Newall coming next.

Blessings to you ~ Kathy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to Spiritual Warfare and the Animal Kingdom, Part Five

  1. M85 says:

    Good article. I find it so interesting that you mentioned the Sabbath! I think you’re on to a big issue there that may need further discussion. I’m not a Sabbatarian or anything but I feel that perhaps many people’s incapability of understanding the concept of God’s peace and non-violence (in general but specifically towards animals) may be due in part to ignorance in regard to what the Sabbath is.

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    • lilbitdunn says:

      Thank you so much! Yes, the Sabbath…..I think you are right, it deserves further discussion. I do try to observe the Sabbath and learn how to observe it more fully. It is a topic that perhaps we could fast and pray about. Thanks again for your message; glad you enjoyed the article!! Blessings to you!! 🙂

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  2. Jenni hunyer says:

    I am new to your page and this is an issue close to my heart. Just as you point out, I find my church surprisingly silent or, at best complacent on this issue. I will be digesting all your posts with great interest. One point – I notice that in the garden of Eden there didn’t seem to be any carnivores. Indeed all creatures seemed to live in harmony and God gave them all the plants to eat. It seems clear to me that carnivorous, predatory behaviour by both man and animal only came about after the fall. Could it be that, one day, when God’s will on earth is done that the lion really will lie with the lamb?

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    • kathy says:

      Hi Jenni, thank you for the message, and for exploring our page and posts! Yes, it is common I’m afraid that the church is silent on these issues. We started this page in part because we are hoping it will attract Christians who want to see this change, and that they will begin speaking out to their leadership about how our faith informs us as the church that they need to address stewardship issues within their faith bodies. We write also to encourage Christians to be strong, educate others on the issues of animal exploitation (friends, family, work mates, and so on); we hope to be a source of strength and encouragement where that support may be hard to come by within our own church bodies due to lack of church awareness or involvement in the issues; and we hope to provide some tools for Christians to use to address their church bodies – these can be found within the articles we write as well in the pages at the top of the blog (Resource page, etc).

      We are to “put on love above all” Paul says, “in all we do” (Col 3:14). We as the church are to model Jesus’ character, to manifest the kingdom on earth now as it is in heaven; this includes how we treat animals, what we partake in as consumers, and it includes speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves (which includes animals) – Proverbs 31:8. Our first mandate in Eden was to “care for the earth and the animals.”

      Yes, there wasn’t any meat eating until after the flood, when it appears God conceded, and it may be likely he did so because of the hardness of our own hearts (Genesis chapter 8, toward the end, just before chapter 9 when he gives permission to eat animals). There most likely was also not a lot of vegetation after the flood, and the permission to eat them may also likely have been temporary. Certainly, the way we raise them today for food was not God’s will. “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals….” Proverbs 12:10.

      God wants peace within all creation. On our blog site there is a “feature video” that depicts what we believe the bible is telling us about God’s will for creation – what it was intended to be, and what it will be again one day! When as you say, “The lion will lay with the lamb….” It’s a great sermon by theologian Greg Boyd, pastor and teacher at Woodland Hills Church in St Paul, MN – check it out when you have 45 minutes!

      Myself, I long for the day when we will walk among all God’s creatures, none shall fear us, and we shall have no more reason to fear them, as well – and all will live in peace in the fullness of God’s presence!

      Thank you again for your message! Feel free to write us anytime. We have a FB page also connected to our blog page, we hope you will visit us there, too!

      God bless,
      Kathy

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