Spiritual muscles help us grow strong in our faith. We are able to grow into mature spirituality by regularly exercising the power of love. David Bordon, author of Discover the Power in the Prayers of Paul, states that “Love is the only spiritual muscle that motivates us to do the right things, in the right ways, for the right reasons, and at the right times.”
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” [1 Corinthians 13:4-8].
Among the perspectives that the Apostle Paul acquired through his many hardships was an insider’s view into the Roman military. He was imprisoned many times, which allowed him to gain a close-up view into the life and mind of soldiers, the working of authority and the exercise of political and military power. He uses military language in helping Christ followers understand what they’re up against in walking out our life of faith. Paul speaks of spiritual forces arrayed against Christ’s followers for the purpose of snatching truth out of our minds, light out of our hearts, and eternity out of our souls.
Howard Thurman, author of Jesus and the Disinherited, refers to the spiritual forces of this lost and dark world unleashed against Christ followers as the three hounds of hell: fear, hypocrisy and hatred. We see the wounded victims of these hounds of hell in the scarred and bleeding bodies of cultural and political division along the paths of social media. We see the ravages of confusion and darkness in the hearts of believers who regurgitate false ideologies which condemn the beauty of human creations simply because their cultural expressions are “different” then their own. We see the battle-fatigued veterans caught in the struggle for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness who have unwittingly welcome these hounds of hell within themselves, and become agents of fear and hatred to those around them. And we see the debilitating sickness of racial alienation in the isolation wards of our segregated churches.
How are your spiritual muscles doing today? Have you been exercising and strengthening your spiritual muscles? Why do you need to have spiritual muscles? Why do you need to have spiritual power?
“Men (people) often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they do not know each other; they do not know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.” ― A. Philip Randolph
The power of love is greater than the dark forces working to instigate, foster and foment fear, division and hatred.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the view point of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood [1 John 4:4-6].
The greatest and most powerful weapon at your disposal that defeats the three hounds of hell is love. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment. In this world we are to be like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister [1 John 4:16-21].
Although the pattern of the world works to destroy and tear down and destroy, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law [Galatians 5:22-23].
The Holy Spirit gives you the power you need to reject the old established relationship patterns born out of racism. You can say “no” to attending a segregated church. You can demonstrate Christ’s resurrection power that transcends racial and cultural division. God’s desire for multiethnic community is a practical lifelong exercise in building up your spiritual super powers. We encourage you to go discover and unleash the love of God and the love of your fellow brothers and sisters in all their shades and hues as an expression of spiritual victory and transformation.