This is an article from the September-December 1998 issue: New Horizons in Mission

Horizon Seven: Microscopic Spiritual Warfare Massive Blind Spot?

Horizon Seven: Microscopic Spiritual Warfare Massive Blind Spot?

Some "New Horizons" we took to the EFMA conference are not "new and emerging trends" but old problems that are simply blind spots. Puzzling! Are there really "blind spots? How could there be when so many people are thinking and praying and pouring themselves out to carry Christ's mission to the world? But, stop and think: Satan is in the business of causing blind spots. We are not just carrying a pleasant Gospel to the ends of the earth. We are engaging in an all-out battle with "the god of this world, against principalities and powers." Of course we have blind spots! One is so complex we left it out at the last minute.My editorial on page two also talks about this major but mysterious "new horizon"--which is so complex that when we got to Atlanta I decided the last minute we ought to leave it out.

However, our steady readers will recognize that it is not entirely new to these pages. In the last year-and-a-half, and sprinkled throughout many of my editorials, you will have seen an idea creeping in that is totally new to me. It involves a much larger understanding of God and His mission.

What? Can you get big new ideas at the age of 73? Actually, it seems like age speeds up discovery. Like finishing up a jig saw puzzle. The more pieces you get in, the faster it goes.

You may be surprised or puzzled or disturbed at what I am going to say. But my thoughts are no more spectacular or provocative than the revolutionary idea that God wants us to represent to people the full spectrum of His love by involvement in the entire battlefront of His conquering Kingdom. This pits us against the strategems of the prince of darkness on a wider front. It is more and more clear to me that He is expecting us to work along with Him in that wider front, at His side, fighting back against Satan in every area and every level of Satan's destructive invasion of creation.

Are you and I culturally blind to certain realms of Satan's deadly activity? Take the realm of tiny microbes. Are Evangelicals duped into considering plagues merely a secular or scientific problem, not a Satanic problem, not a mission problem? If so, unknown to us the people we go out around the world to bless may respond,

"If your God is so smart, why can't He prevent my children dying from malaria?"

As we fumble and stumble for an answer to a question like that, our reply may sound flippant, like:

"As missionaries we do lots of things, but we don't do suffering. We can only put your kids on a bed while they swell up grotesquely and die an agonizing death. We don't think it is up to us to completely erradicate the malarial plasmodium. Satan might get discouraged! After all, that evil bug is his pride and joy. He's killed more of God's people with that missle than any other weapon in his arsenal."

We apparently don't see malaria as our problem, as a mission problem. We don't know what to do about it. The pills are of less and less value. So?

Can we actually erradicate that brilliant, malicious little monster called a plasmodium? Are we washing our hands of something we don't understand without trying seriously to understand it? Can we feed children but not in Christ's name wield scientific knowledge to eliminate something that kills four children every sixty seconds--in an excruciating death? Maybe we could, but we aren't. Does this glorify God?

You may well guess that I got dragged into this line of thinking by discovering that even though 1,500 people die daily in the U.S. from cancer, all forty funded projects of the U.S. National Cancer Institute budget are merely evaluations of radiation and chemo treatments for cancer. Treatment, yes, is a very big business, one which would suffer massively if cancer were eliminated. But, foundational research into the nature of cancer is a very small business, and it is still awkward for me to think that Satan has covered his tracks so well.

What I am saying may thus seem to be a wacky tangent. Dear reader, Satan will rejoice if you draw that conclusion.

A brand new book, "The Gospel of Germs," tells the social impact of the discovery of germs in Europe. Yet not all of us take germs seriously. Satan is quite happy with that. He may hope that most people will conclude that God's good creation has been seriously flawed from the beginning.

This, brothers and sisters, is a new horizon: there is more to do than we thought. I propose we roll up our sleeves and do the trench work, risk our very lives working to completely erradicate Satan's handiwork--in the area of global disease. "The Son of God appeared for this purpose: that He might destroy the works of the devil." Now, are you still willing to follow Him?

End Notes: 1 Winter, Ralph D. Interview with the author. 1998. 2 Pollock, John. The Apostle: A Life of Paul. Victor Books, 1985. Pg. 15. 3 Hodgkin, Thomas. Theodoric the Goth. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1891. Pg. 179. 4 Villari, Pasquale. The Barbarian Invasions of Italy. T. Fisher Unwin, 1902. Pg. 43. 5 Winter, Ralph D. Interview with the author. 1998. 6 Blincoe, Bob. Correspondence with the author. 1998. 7 Winter, Ralph D. "Editorial Comment," Mission Frontiers. January-February 1996. Pg. 12. All scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible New Living Translation.


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