by Guest Blogger, Pastor Bryan Craddock
There was a time in history when warfare seems to have been relatively simple and straightforward. Your enemies were those lined up on the opposite side of a field wearing a different colored uniform. But modern combat situations are not so simple. Soldiers can easily find themselves targeting the wrong person.
In Ephesians 6:12, Paul identifies a similar problem that all Christians face. He says, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Christians have always been tempted to regard non-Christians as enemies. When someone contradicts biblical teaching or disregards biblical moral standards, we may perceive it as a personal affront.
To make matters worse, both pundits and the press play up this conflict to grab our attention. Nothing draws a crowd like a fight. The result is catastrophic. Christians either isolate themselves in fear or lash out with brash, angry words provoking the very people we are supposed to reach.
We end up fighting the wrong battle against the wrong enemy using the wrong methods, all to our true enemy’s delight.
We have to remember that from the standpoint of the gospel non-Christians are not enemy targets but captives who need to be rescued. Paul says, And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
We can only rise to such behavior as the Holy Spirit enables us to put on the mind of Christ. Matthew 9:36 tells us, When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
May God fill us with the grace and love to look beyond offensive words and deeds to the spiritual struggle of the heart, so that we can humbly proclaim the good news of salvation in Christ.