Everyday I receive an email with an inspirational message from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a Christian sports ministry to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes. Frankly, although I am not an athlete, I still enjoy the sports analogies that accompany the emails, and I also enjoy receiving a message each day about how to honor God.
One particular email really spoke to me, and I think it pertains to the Christian community's difficulty in embracing the spiritual realm and spiritual warfare. Dan Britton, who played professional indoor lacrosse for four years for the Baltimore Thunder wrote that day's message. Dan serves as FCA's Executive Vice President of International Ministry. He chose to speak about spiritual integrity. Here is his testimony: "As a lacrosse player, I knew some of my teammates to be big partiers. Despite their lifestyle, I learned that they had nothing to hide. Actually, I came to find out that they lived with more integrity than me! As a Christian who had a "testimony" to protect, I tried to hide my gaps. What they said and did, however, were the same things. No gaps. Just the basic "what you see is what you get" lifestyle. They were partiers, but not hypocrites. It all lined up with them. Unfortunately, we as Christians often will say one thing and do another."
What Dan refers to as his "gaps", I prefer to think of as our deviation from our true self, or our imbalance. The true identity of our spirit often doesn't match what we project to the world. Our Inside doesn't match up with our Outside. Integrity is the state of being whole and undivided; the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction. That means we are consistent in our character, conformed in both body and spirit, just like Jesus was ... we are the same, whether it is according to the spirit inside of us, or the physical image that the world sees.
In the aspect of spiritual warfare, can you see how the Enemy can take advantage of us when there's an imbalance between our inside and outside? Too many Western Christians care more about the image they project to each other than who they project to the world. At the same time, they are desperate to keep the spiritual side under wraps because it is so dissimilar to the physical side they promote. And the Enemy swoops in and begins to whisper his destroying lies: you're a fraud ... you profess trust and confidence in your Savior, but inside you are full of doubt and unbelief ... if they knew the dark things in your past, your fellow Christians would denounce and reject you ... keep it hidden; hide your fear/anger/bitterness/unforgiveness, and keep on pretending ... The lies go on and on and on. And millions of Christians live their lives in defeat and ineffectiveness. Oh, they put on a good show, but as Dan Britton's message says, when they look in the mirror, there are gaps between the spiritual and the physical that don't line up. They see the holes where satan has taken up residence in order to oppress them.
And they're too afraid to look at spiritual warfare as a way to transform their lives, get free from satan's bondage, and to become the whole person -- inside and out -- that God desires them to be. They can't get beyond their suspicions that working in the spirit realm with Jesus and the Holy Spirit is somehow ... I don't know ... maybe too mystical, or speaks of unnatural and unbiblical practices. But why are Christians unable to understand the truth that Jesus Christ is living in us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit?!? Why would we choose to ignore His presence and His help when satan begins to attack us with his lies? Why would we choose to remain powerless, impotent, and unfruitful?
An image was just given to me by the Holy Spirit ... in the context of Dan Britton's "gaps", when we do not allow Jesus to transform us to wholeness -- when we do not call on His presence that is right there, within us! -- those gaps become spaces and holes through which the Living Water seeps out of our lives, and it's impossible for us to be nourished. We do not bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. It is not enough to live a moral, ethical life on the outside. We are called to produce fruit for the kingdom, and we can't do it through the activities of our Outside self; we can only do that through partnering our spirits with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Once Christians experience the power of Jesus working with them and through them to deliver themselves or another out of the crippling bondage of satan's lies, they will close those gaps and become their true, authentic self -- everything in alignment with God and His purpose ... to glorify and exalt Jesus as our Savior.
If you haven't experienced a spiritual attack, you will. If you are growing spiritually; if you are exposing the Enemy; if you are invading his territory; if you are trying to break away from the world and its temptations and distractions; if God is preparing you for a great work for His kingdom ... get ready, you will be spiritually attacked. But there is no need to be fearful! We have Jesus living in us, and at our invitation, He and the Holy Spirit will be your armor as you go into battle. Remember, He's as close as the mention of His Name. Just call, and He will come.
Proverbs 18:10 "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe."