Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Wars We Wage

I saw a news article this morning, in which, a man, who was so upset with his local DMV, that he decided to pay the sales tax for two cars that he had purchases with 300,000 pennies.  He used 5 wheelbarrows to haul the pennies into the DMV to pay the nearly $3000 tax.  He says that he did it to prove a point.  He was inconvenienced by having to fill out a form, requesting information he was seeking.  So to retaliate, he decided to inconvenience his local DMV, by forcing them to count 300,000 pennies by hand.  He identified his enemy…and then he attacked.  But was it the right enemy?  A similar situation happened in Texas a few years ago in which a man paid his speeding ticket using 22,000 pennies.  He claimed that 39 mph was not exceeding a speed limit of 30 mph.  He identified his enemy, which in this case was a female clerk (who did not issue his ticket, nor was part of the jury that proclaimed him guilty) and attacked by pouring the 22,000 pennies over the counter where the clerk was working.  Was this the right enemy? 
I am no better.  I have been guilty, countless times, of irrational anger toward people, who are not my enemy.  I remember one particularly humbling situation, where I verbally attacked my younger, teenage sister about her ineptitudes in handling the laundry.  She had destroyed one of my shirts in the laundering process.  My mother approached me in tears…threw the shirt in my face and said that she was the one that made the mistake…oops…  I went from the attitude of king and ultimate authority to a salamander under a rock in record time.  My enemy was not my sister…though I often treated her as such.  My enemy was not my mother.  I believe that the enemy was much greater and darker than just a person who I could attack around me. 

I have come to believe that the enemy was spiritual.  We have a human nature.  Our human nature continues to influence our thoughts and actions.  I believe that the Enemy…the Devil…attacks us where we are weak.  In this case, I believe that I was convinced that my anger was righteous, and that I deserved to lash out at those around me.  This happens all the time in our lives.  We attack co-workers, family members, fellow church members, team members, and anyone else who doesn’t fit into the role that we have assigned for them.  We use our words to criticize the people around us…we use our words to tear others down, while elevating ourselves.  We identify the enemy and we attack...but have we identified the right enemy?  Walt Kelley is credited with the quote from his Pogo cartoon, “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”  I don’t think that this is the way that God intended for his people to interact with each other…as enemies.
In the duration of our lives we find ourselves in constant battle.   We may not even be aware of it.  We may see the way that a family member, a co-worker, a church member, or a team mate treats us is wrong…and we criticize, attack and berate them…often times behind their back.  We lash out and attack people who are not the enemy.  When people do things that we think should be different, or we feel disrespected by their actions, we attack with critical words and gossiping to others.  We have identified the enemy…and he is us…but is this who we should be fighting against?  Sure it’s human nature…but the real enemy is using it against us.  The Real Enemy wants nothing more than for mankind to tear down and attack one another.  When things don’t go the way we want them to be or someone’s personality is contrary to our own…we see them as the enemy and we attack.  This is not right.

When we see this happening, we have a responsibility to help one another identify the real enemy and fight the real enemy and not each other.  When we hear gossip and criticism we need to point the person back to the source for reconciliation.  This is especially true within our churches.  People who state their beliefs and faith in Jesus Christ…and claim to be followers of Christ, attack one another, pointing out one another’s mistakes and flaws.  We see the enemy and we attack…but have we identified the correct enemy?  Ephesians 6:10-20, makes it abundantly clear, “our battle is NOT against flesh and blood…”  Our battle is a spiritual battle.  When we engage in the spiritual battle we find that the Holy Spirit is the one who fights for us.  We find that as fellow followers of Christ, we can spur one another on to fight the right enemy…together…rather than fighting a battle against one another.  It’s time that, we, as the Body of Christ, join together and fight the REAL enemy.

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