There it is, four times, in this classic Pauline passage on “spiritual warfare”: stand. Take your stand … stand your ground … after you have done everything, stand … stand firm.
Not stand around doing nothing. Not stand still, unable or unwilling to move. Not stand in a safe spot.
Stand in the battle. Keep your position. Follow the “standing orders” of King Jesus: love God, love neighbors, love one another, and love your enemies.
The warfare into which we have been plunged is not “modern,” we don’t get to fire spiritual rockets at unseen enemies miles away from our secure bunkers. Paul pictures our warfare as up close and personal, hand-to-hand rather than done-by-drone.
To stand aright, we have to see well; our eyes have to be wide open to the nature of our warfare.
First, it’s spiritual. This does not mean that it does not involve everyday life and ordinary realities. Our enemy is intent on stealing, killing and destroying. He doesn’t much care whether it’s by bombs or drugs, bullets or bullies, arrows or apathy, armies or anxiety.
Spiritual battles can only be fought with spiritual weapons: “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power,” is how Paul begins. Our humanity is wonderful, but mere humanity will not take us far enough: “Put on the whole armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” We cannot defeat the devil with bullets and bombs; in fact, when we “go there,” we end up fighting for the wrong side.
To stand in the way Paul calls us to stand is not something we do alone. Yes, we each need to stand, but we stand together, we stand with each other, and with our neighbors who are likewise under attack but may not understand the nature of what’s happening to them.
The nature of our warfare is defensive in this sense: we are to hold the ground that King Jesus has already won, which is absolutely everything.
Jesus has assigned you to a station, a spot on a much larger battlefield. Your station is your heart and life, your home and household, your workplace and community. Our station is especially the lives of our neighbors who are under assault, particularly the littlest, the least, the last and the lost.
Take your stand. Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand. After you’ve done all your Commander has ordered, stand. Stand firm!
Where do you see yourself getting pushed around spiritually? What would it look like for you to stand in those circumstances? Begin praying your way into that picture of you—standing!