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• Greg Boyd

In this sermon, Greg calls the church to pay attention to the reality of spiritual warfare that pervades our world, and then he follows this with direction on the necessity and the ways to resist the powers that war against God’s kingdom.

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Greg offers a third letter (in a series of three) written to Woodland Hills Church, which is penned in the style of the letters written to the seven churches in Revelation chapters three and four. In this letter, we hear the challenge to pay attention to the reality of the spiritual war that is transpiring in our midst and to develop the ability to resist the tactics of the enemy that wages war against God’s kingdom. The letter reads as follows:

To the angel of Woodland Hills Church, in Maplewood Minnesota,

This is the word of the Eternal One, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. Hear what the Spirit is saying to you today.

You have done well in keeping my name from being dragged into Babylon’s toxic politics. I applaud your teamwork approach to leadership and to all ministries. And I delight that you have, as a group, begun to take extra measures to care for the well-being of my earth and my animals.

But I call you, Woodland Hills Church, to attention! Do not let the Powers that oppress the world cause you to forget that a battle rages all around you and that you each have an important role to play in this battle. The time is short, so this is not the time to become satisfied with your past accomplishments. This is the time to press in! There are still greater things I want to do in you and through you on behalf of the community and the world, if you will each fully devote yourself to the cause of this war and place your total trust in me.

Let everyone who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches today.

This letter begins by affirming the stance we have taken about the difference between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world. We are not trying to fix politics; instead we are seeking to be a Kingdom people formed by Kingdom practices that embody the way of Jesus. This is illustrated by the way our church leadership is organized as a team, in contrast to placing the power in the hands of one individual.

The challenge is that Jesus calls us to stand at attention! Like soldiers who turn their attention to a superior officer when they enter into a room, we too need to pay attention to the presence of Jesus. In addition, we need to pay attention to the reality of the battle that is being waged all around us.

When there is a war transpiring, it would be immoral to act like we are on vacation. However, in America, we are trained to pursue the vacation mindset, to ignore the reality of spiritual warfare. Earth is like Normandy beach on D-Day, as we are caught in the crossfires of a battle much bigger than ourselves, but a battle in which we have an important role to play.

According to the New Testament, the world is currently oppressed by Satan and other evil powers. Jesus says that Satan is the authority of the kingdoms of the world. In John 12:31-33, we read that Satan is the prince (archon) of this world. The archon is the highest authority in the region. Paul said that Satan is “the principle ruling power of the air.” The worldview of the New Testament is that the world is a war zone because it is oppressed by powerful, sinister, and invisible intelligence. C.S. Lewis said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.”

There are two important words to remember as we become aware of this reality. The first is attention. We are to be on alert, on call. We are soldiers, enlisted in battle, but not at all like worldly warfare. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:3-4: “Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier’s aim is to please the enlisting officer.” We are not to get so wrapped up in the things of the world that we forget who we are and what we are called to do.

The second word is resist. The reason for being alert is to resist. This is the key point of the focus scripture quoted above. As followers of Jesus, we are to live in resistance to the powers that fight against the Kingdom of God. We must resist powers that influence us to see other people as the enemy, even though the culture trains us to demonize and fight them as if they deserve to die. We must fight to refuse not to love. The only enemy that we have is the evil one who is called the Devil. Some of the major powers that we are to resist include polarization, greed, xenophobia, despair, sexual immorality, apathy for creation, rugged individualism and the vacation mindset.

As we pay attention and resist, the Spirit will lead us to take baby steps as a part of God’s kingdom. We all have a role to play, even though our culture tells us that the ultimate goal is to relax and adopt a vacation mindset. As we stand for God’s love, we will stand against the flow of the culture, and thus we serve as agents of God’s war on evil.

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Topics: Hope, Kingdom of God, Spiritual Warfare

Sermon Series: Dear Church

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The MuseCast: April 30

Focus Scripture:

  • Ephesians 6:10-13

    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power; put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, for our struggle is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on the evil day and, having prevailed against everything, to stand firm.

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5 thoughts on “Attention!

  1. Matthew says:

    I am so glad that for all the intellectual work WHC engages in, it has not forgotten the power and reality of the spiritual realm. Thanks for this.

  2. Jerry says:

    Yes, yes thanks for this

    – adding from a prior sermon from Greg——————
    “We have only one command, love God first and love our neighbors as ourselves.

    These are our marching orders and our enemy is clear: it is the kingdom of Darkness and its ruler, not any other human being or human organization (Democrats, Republicans, gay rights activists, CEOs, abortion doctors, protesters, etc.).

    When we do this, we will be dying for our enemies, not rejoicing over their destruction at our hands. Our unique authority and power as Christians is not our right to vote, but our right, [NO] our obedience to God’s command that we suffer for righteousness sake, that we love sacrificially and serve our enemies for the sake of winning them to Christ.

    The test is clear when we COULD pick up the sword, will we choose the cross”?

    Will we allow our flesh-driven left hemisphere to pounce or will be led by the spirit, stemming from our right; choosing to crucify the flesh, Greg’s “omniscience mechanism”, and instead walk lovingly alongside folks?

    1. Jerry says:

      Adding to my last comment: Sermon “Attention” – our marching orders – when we COULD pick up the sword, will we choose instead to walk alongside people in their pain and struggle and point them to the hope of Jesus Christ – a few things I’ve gleaned from Iain and Rupert:

      From the fruit of the Spirit: [kindness] is an equal balance of [grace and truth].

      Humble kindness, in the absence of truth, is just condoning, (allowing behavior
      considered morally wrong or offensive), so you become a doormat to be walked on – self [cruelty].

      Truth in the absence of grace is elevating to condemn – [cruelty] to others.

      Jesus separated us from our sins and invited us to follow hating the sin but loving the sinner; separating people from what they have done.

      True Kindness is anchored in, peace and joy, faith and hope in God. Romans 5:2

      The brain’s left hemisphere, subconscious habits complicated but linear straight forward – instructions upfront, is designed to help us apprehend and thus manipulate the world – while the right hemisphere, consciousness containers of possibilities in imaginations – complex with cascading reentrant loops, is to help us comprehend the world and thus see it for what it is – a transcendent top-down divine teleology origin outside emergent bottom-up reductionist spontaneously generated closed systems – the universe as animism, with
      organisms, not an algorithmic machine.

      We have depended on that aspect of our brain that is most adept at manipulating the world, at bending it to our purposes, coercing it to an extent unimaginable, even a few generations ago, while at the same time wreaking havoc precisely because we have not pursued a proportional amount of consciousness wisdom to understand it.

      Neurotransmitters – peace and joy chemicals
      • Endorphins – deal with stress and reduce feelings of pain
      • Serotonin – mood stabilizer for well-being, happiness
      • Dopamine – pleasure, a motivational role in the brain’s reward system
      • Oxytocin – bonding, [Love and trust]

      The neurobiological alterations of cortisol and norepinephrine, in PTSD Trauma, cause chronic low-level anxiety deteriorating body and mind. At extremes a hyper overdrive left hemisphere, externalization of anomalously manifest internal conversations, that has drowned and lost touch with its right functional reality, schizophrenia.

      We are the most physically, more stuff, [left] hemisphere connected and yet spiritually [right] hemisphere isolated people who have ever walked the planet – a schizophrenic culture.

      This is a spiritual, [living water lack of flow NOT physical H2O – woman at the well], crisis, [a lack of the grace and truth balance that Jesus demonstrated with this woman], destroying both body and soul when Greg’s – ‘Crystal Sea – already not yet paradox’, five husbands so far in this case, is lacking [faith and hope].
      When you lighten your load, Psalms 55:22 “Cast your burdens on the Lord and he will sustain you”, interpreting your [fragmented traumatic pieces] through the [whole lens of God’s purpose] you will begin to find healing; a strengthening of your [faith and hope]. Romans 8:28

      The recent unite conference 2024 speaker Brian Zahnd’s quote: “From eternity, God has brought spiritual creatures into existence in the only way such creatures could be formed: by calling them to ascend out of the darkness” stems from a David Bentley Hart book, “You Are Gods”, as does Iain’s thoughts, “All of the energy and matter we have in the universe right now is the same amount of energy and matter that has been here since the Big Bang just going through cycles of death and renewal,” stem from conversations with his friend David.

      You can search YouTube for the three conversations below

      A Conversation between Iain McGilchrist and David Bentley Hart:

      Iain McGilchrist, Rupert Sheldrake and Alex Gomez-Marin in conversation

      Theology, Art, and the Whole Brain: A Conversation with Dr. Jeremy Begbie and Dr. Iain McGilchrist
      – 15 min in; a cell as complex with cascading reentrant loops

  3. Patty says:

    Paying attention” to the reality of spiritual warfare that pervades our world + resisting the powers that war against God’s kingdom” has to be fundamental in my kingdom outlook and practice. Thank you WHC
    (Greg Boyd ) for this continual reminder and to love like Jesus ❣️

  4. Patty says:

    Paying attention” to the reality of spiritual warfare that pervades our world + resisting the powers that war against God’s kingdom” has to be fundamental in my kingdom outlook and practice. Thank you WHC
    (Greg Boyd ) for this continual reminder and to love like Jesus ❣️

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