I’ve spent several weeks exploring the idea of where we are right now in the CGGC, particularly as we anticipate looking forward into the future and discerning where the Lord wants us to go and what He wants us to do as His people. Some of what I share will be from a broader view – where the CGGC reflects what’s going on across the larger evangelical church in North America. At other times, the sense will be much more specific to the CGGC and where we find ourselves in this critical moment.
This past spring I’ve had the privilege of attending the annual gatherings in the Eastern Regional Conference, the Allegheny Conference and the Midwest Region Conference of the CGGC. Next week will bring the Great Lakes Conference to Findlay and in August the Western Region will gather in Ft. Scott, Kansas. I’ve shared some of these observations at these recent gatherings and felt like they were appropriate to share here over the next few weeks as we draw this series to a close. These are my observations as I have had the opportunity to interact with various churches and leaders across the U.S. and even around the world.
There seems to be an intensification in spiritual warfare and oppression. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us “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.” The battle is real and in places near and far it seems to be intensifying.
In almost every location around the globe where we have missions work, we’re seeing this in systemic ways as well as specific, localized instances. You have places like Venezuela and Haiti that continue to experience enormous struggle and even societal collapse. We know that God created this world with the intent of flourishing for all of creation. The lack of flourishing is a result of the effects of sin and the work of the enemy to keep humanity trapped in hopelessness and despair. In some of our work in Asia and other places as well, there are more targeted efforts to impede the work of the Gospel and frustrate efforts to make Jesus known. Again, in both instances, the evil one and his minions are at work to bring suffering, increase despair and hopeless, and ultimately to keep people from the Good News of Jesus.
I’ve also sensed this increase in spiritual resistance or oppression here in the states as well. Now, I realize there tends to be two extremes in this area: some who act as if the devil doesn’t exist and others who blame everything on the work of the enemy. I think we’re wise to avoid both extremes. I’ve watched people blame the devil for their loss of employment when perhaps their attendance record or performance had some bearing on their firing. That being said, let’s not be blind to the fact that there is an enemy who seeks to frustrate, discourage, and do anything he can to weaken the faith and resolve of the people of God.
I’m painfully aware of many instances where leaders and their families seem to be enduring attacks or opposition from the evil one and his minions. Sometimes these are manifest in marriage or family crises; other times they come in the form of discouragement, setbacks or health issues and still other times when there seems to be real manifestations of demonic presence and activity. Often times I see these sorts of instances coinciding where fruitful ministry is beginning to take place or where God’s people are beginning to embrace His mission rather than just “playing church.”
We should expect this battle. We should expect it particularly when we become more intently focused upon doing the things God has asked us to do in order to demonstrate and proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God. As we become more obedient to the Father we should expect resistance, attack and even oppression. Don’t be discouraged and don’t lose heart. We need to fight the spiritual battle through prayer and by asking the Father to unleash His abundant resources to thwart the attempts of the enemy.
Be praying for your brothers and sisters, some of whom are living through intense battles right now. Be praying for your brothers and sisters around the world who are facing oppression and increasing resistance to the work of the Gospel. Pray that God would fight for them and clear the way for the Good News to advance to every tribe and nation around the globe.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 13, No. 21