A Neglected Weapon of Spiritual Warfare
In the last 3-5 years, I have seen a disturbing trend in churches across America. People no longer spend time getting to know each other. We go to church, do our time, and then go home to do what we want. We treat church attendance as if it is an inconvenience to our schedule. We treat it very much like work or a chore.
In many ways, our western culture has had a tremendous impact on how we view church. American society is very fast paced. We try to get everywhere as fast as we can so we can pursue our heart-felt desires.
The forgotten weapon in spiritual warfare in churches today is fellowship. We come to church and leave so fast that we neglect to tend to each other. There is great power in working together. Let’s take a moment and consider the example set by the early church.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1).
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2b).
This is the church of Acts that so many preachers and ministries say that they are trying to return to! They understood the power of fellowship. They prayed together, ate together, and visited one another with heart-felt affection. We are missing more than just miracles and holiness. We are missing fellowship! How can we bear one another’s burdens when we show up late for church and leave as soon as the final “Amen” is said? How can we truly be a blessing to others in the body when we won’t even take the time to sit down and spend time with each other?
Church has become impersonal. We view it more in terms of what we will get out of it rather than what we can give or contribute. We each have a unique relationship with God and a unique life experience. Other people need to hear what you and I have learned. At the same time, each of us has deficiencies. There are areas where we need to improve.
Our individualistic society has also made us very selfish. We want personalized church where every song is the song we like, every sermon is our favorite sermon, and the altar service is done the way we want. This is not the way of God. The carnal mind is enmity against God. Let’s come to church with the heart of service for God’s sake, not our own.
I would like to share with you a fact from history that will help enhance your need to understand fellowship as a tool in spiritual warfare. The Romans used to fight with a shield called a scutum. This shield was four feet tall and two feet wide. It was designed to cover the majority of a soldier’s body. A group of Roman soldiers with these shields fought in a single unit. Those in the front linked their shields side by side. Those in the second row would lift their shields over the heads of the soldiers in front of them. The third row would to the same. This formed a “turtle” formation of protection as they marched forward. There was ample protection for everyone; they had to fight as one person.
In Ephesians 6:12-18, Paul talks about the shield of faith. The Greek word for shield is thuros. The root word for thuros is a door. It is a direct reference to the scutum shield from Roman times. Different soldiers in the Roman Army had different kinds of shields. Paul’s use of thuros points us to a great spiritual truth.
In order for God’s army to be effective, we must learn to link our faith with the faith of others. When we read the Bible, God’s people always worked together. Moses worked with Joshua and the elders under them. Jesus sent the 70 out two at a time. The Apostles worked together to resolve issues and transact Kingdom business. Paul worked with Timothy and the elders under them.
As Solomon said: “11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:11-13)
“In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines” (Proverbs 18:17).
We were made to work together. When we fellowship, we impart counsel to one another, often without knowing it. When I came to my present church, my early days were spent drinking in what others had to say so I could live God’s way. Many times people didn’t know everything I was going through, but someone would usually say something that I needed to hear at that precise moment! Today, it is hard to get people to do that.
So many times people come to church and they think they have it all figured out. Because of our individualistic society, we think we don’t need anyone else in the Body. Often, people read a few internet articles and they deem themselves the expert on every issue; this attitude will often disregard those who have toiled for years in obedience to God.
We need the counsel of the wise (Proverbs 25:22, 11:14, 26:4). Someone else has the Word for us when we are weary (Isaiah 50:4). We need encouragement and even correction. People are going through trials and they need clues to help them persevere. We need to pray, study, and even eat together. Jesus did all these things with others.
Will we have differences? Absolutely. The Bible tells us: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). When iron and iron hit each other, there are sparks. When we fellowship, there will be differences of personality. We must not put other people down because they are different. We can all seek truth together and still submit to the authority God has established.
I encourage you all to go to church early; be excited to go. Stay late; be sad to leave and hang out as long as you can. Spend some time getting to know people you don’t know right now. Make time to see someone during the week. We need each other. Let’s be the Body of Christ and not just talk about it.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).