“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me.” (Psalm 35:1)
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood . . .” (Eph. 6:12)
Who are you fighting with? It seems like a good question these days. I just heard on the news this morning that the ISIS (radicalized Islamic group) is more of a threat than Al-Qaeda, especially on American soil. Be that as it may, we are becoming more of a culture that seems to be more under attack regarding our morality, marriage, politics, raising kids, our school systems. Some of it is external, some internal and some of it feels like civil war.
We want God to defend and protect us. In fact I am convinced that many Christians see that as God’s primary role. Some of that comes from immigrating Old Testament covenant stipulations into a New Covenant framework. Instead of “considering it all joy when we encounter various trials…” we think God should be keeping us from trials. If we are doing things right then God ought to make us wealthy and comfortable. When God does not cooperate we tend to be at odds with God. After all, if He really loves us then bad things should not happen to us.
But some of our worst fights fall in two areas: people and ourselves. It is often humorous (and I say that with tongue in cheek) when two Christians get into a spit fight (war of the tongues) that both would easily claim, as Psalm 35:1 says, that God is on their side and He will contend with my enemy. How staggering when Christians fight among themselves. It happens in marriages all the time. Two people who are claiming to know Christ become each others worst enemy because they choose to stop acting in love and allow hate and bitterness to shape their interactions. Oh, I get it, there are always extenuating circumstances…. absolutely.
But I am often reminded that Christians are more interested in being “right” than righteous. Paul said it in Ephesians 6:12 – our enemy is not flesh and blood. We are all in the same boat. We are all born into sin, separated from the family of God, and none of us can repair the damage on our efforts. Christ died to redeem a people who reflect Christ – the enemy is threefold: the world (attitude of rebellion against God), the Flesh (personal lusts and temptations of this world) and Satan who is a real entity that wages war on God and his anointed ones.
If you are at odds with someone; with anyone in fact, remember that when God’s Word says that “flesh and blood” (people) are not the enemy it means that ultimately, people are not the real problem. It is the things of this world that reject God, and destroy people. Don’t be that guy who out of a false sense of pride and self-justification becomes someone’s enemy. Wouldn’t it be a stunning reality check if we found out someone is praying that God would “discipline” us because we are acting like a jerk. Christ gives us peace: peace with Him, peace with ourselves, and peace with others. If Christ cannot make a difference in us and how we relate to others then what is the point of claiming to know Him?
Live in His peace,