Spiritual Warfare and the Power of Relationship
By Stephen L France
“Love your neighbour” – Matthew 22:39
It was a very unpleasant night that prompted this blog, so I haven’t formatted it as well as I’d like.
I went to sleep with a hollow feeling in my stomach, that commenced immediately at the end of a cell social.
It was a Friday night; the cell social was dinner at a Chinese Restaurant, but the meal hadn’t tasted good.
The conversation had been fun, but when the night came to an early end after the meal, there was a feeling inside me of incompleteness.
Perhaps it was because two years and seven months ago, nights would end much later than 9:00pm.
Perhaps it was because one of the guys suggested going for drinks afterwards; although I'd have liked to accompany him, I knew I couldn’t do that; re-entering the arena of ‘worldliness’—even if I drank a cranberry juice—would be dangerous territory for me.
This is because it would put my mind in a place best described in Psalm 73, or Exodus when the Israelites wish to return to Egypt.
In other words, I'd survey my surrounding of a Friday night in Leicester Square where we were, and begin to wrestle with the desires of worldly living.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had this feeling of incompleteness after a Christian social night.
My transition from being ‘of the world’ to ‘of the Kingdom’ has warranted many changes in my life.
One of the more superficial amendments, is growing accustomed to the early end-time to socials.
This is where the ‘unpleasant night’ statement earlier, enters.
Going to bed, the incompleteness inside morphed in my sleep, transforming into nightmares with both physical headaches and stomach pains, keeping me between consciousness and sleep.
Although this could have been inspired by food poisoning, I knew straight away that this was a spiritual attack as well.
People may have different descriptions of spiritual attacks, but there are some common points that differentiate it from a bad dream.
1) It hurts you emotionally to such a degree that you carry it into your waking life
2) It drains your energy – a very similar, possibly identical feeling to depression
3) It plays on your personal, deep mental wounds and deceives you massively
The major factor about a spiritual attack, is that it’s not simply a random affair. It arrives with purpose and plays a part on past pains within.
The pain within was loneliness and so I had to ask myself, “why now?”
God has done a miraculous work to clear loneliness out of my soul – I don’t say ‘miraculous’ lightly.
Nothing has physically changed in my life this past year, yet somehow to the best of what I know, loneliness has disappeared—a true Godly wonder!
However, on this night, it returned with a vengeance because of an incompleteness inspired by the social.
It might appear like I don’t have a point here and I suppose because this blog wasn’t planned, it might not be going in a very structured direction, but there is a point.
I’ve stressed time and time again that ‘relationship’ is the powerful aspect of our Christian life.
It forges our walk with God and ability to surrender to Him completely.
When we have cell socials or any fellowship at all, the principle core is ‘relationship’ founded on:
1) God’s love for us [1 John 4:19] in Christ who gave His life
2) Our restored relationship with our Father in Heaven
3) Our image of God as the perfect Father
Through this grace, I'm able to clearly see ‘relationship’ to other people as:
- Love/charity/selfless service to others
- Transparency in truth with others
- Vulnerability to others
- Honest communication
…living the aforementioned points can create the best kind of life – a life founded in Christ without loneliness or the fear of isolation.
The words “Love your neighbour,” aren’t just simple words or a rule for the sake of righteousness. It’s a law that guides us on living THE perfect life; Heaven on Earth.
ANYTHING contrary to relationship—anything at all connected to isolation—will see us in a less favourable emotional disposition.
Putting this into practical terms for my life, this means taking a step of faith, serving my Christian brothers and sisters even more than I’ve been doing. It means calling my church peers simply to see how they’re doing. It means studying scripture with others and praying together either face-to-face or via phone outside of cell gatherings.
Overall, it means relating, and doing everything available that Christ strengthens me to do as He is my source of hope, peace, and fulfilment.
Through Him, everything is possible and I have every faith that the loneliness that attempts to distort my perceptions will disappaear.