When we were kids my cousin Michael and I used to love those mid-winter, Saturday afternoon TV flicks. Some were westerns. Some were monster movies. All involved action, pitting the forces of good and evil against each other. The world was a safer place because good always won out in the end. Seriously, that’s what’s wrong with this world today. If all of the movies would end better everyone would be happier and there wouldn’t be so much crime. But I digress.
In the old days, before guns arrived on the scene, the bow and arrow was often the weapon of choice. A good archer, like Robin Hood or Legolas, could silently take down an enemy in a twitch of a cat’s whisker. And certainly one of the most feared weapons was the flaming arrow. Let a couple of those hit a thatched roof and within minutes the occupants of the house would quickly flee or end up as toast.
The Bible talks about flaming arrows being used in battle, but the context is spiritual and not physical.
“. . . in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 5:16 (NASB)
I keep coming back to this issue of faith because the faith of our current American generation is relatively shallow. As a general rule we’ve had fairly easy for a long time and overall we aren’t doing so well dealing with the hardships that are coming upon us. How we perceive God at work (or not at work) in the midst of our circumstances really does matter.
Christians in America are under siege and it’s not by Muslim extremists or political liberals. The real problem is the seeds of unbelief that we have allowed to grow and take root in our hearts. And when our enemies fire at us with their flaming arrows, as enemies are wont to do, we find ourselves susceptible as we try to block the attacks with fragile shields of wishful thinking.
Why are we so easily angered? Why do we allow apathy, cynicism and bitterness to take root in our hearts? Why do we so easily fall prey to discouragement?
At the root of it all is an inability to trust God in the midst of dark, difficult or painful circumstances. Such situations are not indicators of God’s absence. We simply need to understand that to walk in God’s presence means to be at war with His spiritual enemies. And those enemies are not shy about continually bombarding us with their flaming arrows. If we hope to extinguish the enemy’s missles and fan the flames of a holy love for God, we’d better have those shields of faith in fighting shape—and in use.