~ Misplacing the Keys to the Kingdom ~
Part 4 of 4
When I was a little kid I used to watch the weekly episodes of "Sea Hunt". I watched it on black and white television, to give you an idea of how long ago that was. The contrast between the worlds of air and water held a fascination for me then and, many years later, thanks to a dear friend, I learned to put on and work the equipment (armor?) needed to safely explore the watery world as she certified me in open water SCUBA diving.
Last week's Reflection compared the kingdom of heaven to the World Wide Web. This week I am struck by the metaphor of the play between heaven and the physical world to that of land and sea. (I was blessed to spend a couple consecutive early mornings experiencing that interplay.) Our atmosphere sits heavily on the ocean, even penetrating it a bit. The inhabitants of the air, such as gulls, can quickly enter the watery world and are aware of what is going on just beneath the surface, which they see as part of their dinner table. The inhabitants of the ocean surface know a little about what's happening just above their world, especially watchful for attacks from the airy world. But the above-surface world of the air is a mystery to the watery world creatures, just as the airy world inhabitants have no idea what's happening beneath the surface. Although air and water constantly interact, especially during storms, they are distinct worlds with their own natures and operating rules. The kingdom of heaven is like that.
Chuck Smith, the founder of the international Calvary Chapel churches and ministries, said something at a recent conference that reminded me of a Sea Hunt episode. I remember so few of them, but, for some reason, one event stuck in my mind all these years. Mike Nelson, the boat captain, was fighting with an on-board intruder. Nelson was losing the fight and it looked hopeless. But then he grabbed his opponent long enough to tell him, "Now we are going to finish this in my neighborhood," and pulled the opponent overboard with him into the ocean. The "bad guy" was out of his territory and Nelson quickly brought him under control and submission.
So what did Pastor Chuck Smith tell us that triggered that thirty five-year-old TV memory and what does it have to do with the kingdom of God? (Strange how the brain works and makes connections independent of time. The kingdom of heaven is like that too, but that's for another Reflection.) Ephesians 6 describes the nature and arena of spiritual warfare. It is fought in the lower spiritual realm, just above that of the physical world. Our physical eyes cannot see what's going on anymore than a minnow in the bay can see a high flying sea duck coming at him. Predators of the air do not want the prey of the sea looking up, possibly perceiving their shadowy assaults. When we drop a line, hook and sinker down into the water, we want the fish to pay attention to our bait. We don't want a smart fish following the line up to the surface to catch an even distorted reflection of our faces and fishing rods and figuring things out, if that were possible. We and all creatures of the air want our watery prey focused on their world. We want to keep them unaware of our world and our behind the scene strategies. We want our bait to look like a part of their world and blend in as much as possible, although we are really controlling it.
Chuck Smith said that Satan and his diabolical army wants to keep us focused on our physical realm, never looking up. Satan's emissaries want to keep us unaware of their presence or the operations of their world. The weapons of the physical world are so puny and toy-like compared to the weapons of the spiritual world, to the armor that God provides. Knowing he doesn't "have a prayer" in making gains in the higher spiritual realm, Satan strives with great diligence and effort to give the spiritual battles a physical appearance. So we are distracted by fights with illness, injustice, deprivation, suffering, violence, social and moral upheaval, family problems, job challenges, addictions… Surely these things can be addressed with more laws, better education, greater funding, more programs… Surely these things have nothing to do with evil originating from "high places"… Do they?
Satan and the armies of darkness are most at home and most powerful on this worldly plane to which they were sent by God, cast out of the kingdom of heaven, stripped of the kingdom's resources and weapons. Remember, however, we were given the keys and the resources of the heavenly kingdom. Don't "fall" for the bait. Look up! And let's take these battles out of the physical world and into our neighborhood, the kingdom of God. I don't need to post the operations manual on the Internet. It's already been posted in the Bible for thousands of years. Please, let us join together in reminding ourselves and each other what the Scriptures instruct: Even though it may look that way, and the armies of darkness want it to look that way, the battle isn't essentially physical; it is, in its essence, spiritual. So let's take it into the spiritual world, to the throne of the King of the kingdom. He is our Protector, our Rock, our Warrior, our Rescuer, our Advocate, our Friend, our Abba, Dad.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Weekly Reflections © May 25, 2000
Responses are welcome at: Reflections@prayergear.com
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