A Common Enemy
I love Scifi movies. And Marvel Comics movies, and DC Comics movies, and fantasy movies; pretty much anything that takes my imagination away in a fun, fantastical manner is my happy place. I’ve already had a blast this summer in the theater with the great options and my geeky side has been a happy, happy girl. I was just watching the trailer for Independence Day Resurgence and it evoked in me all the feelings it was meant to. In this sequel the world again faces an attack from aliens. People of all ages, beliefs, and races come together to fight a common enemy attacking the world. And in light of all that is going on in my country from the tension of the upcoming election to the heart breaking shooting in Orlando and all the emotions involved, I found myself a little jealous of the people I was watching in the trailer.
They came together because they had a common enemy. And I remember when our country felt like that. After 9-11 there was the unity that I had never experienced on that scale before. People stopped fighting and arguing, for the most part, and came together to be there for each other because our family had been attacked. We all felt the loss and experienced a vulnerability that we, as Americans, had never known before. But as time went on and people started to discuss how they disagree with what needs to be done, the unity faded, but I think the feeling of vulnerability grew. And I think it’s grown to a catastrophic level in many people’s lives. I’ll be honest, as a follower of Christ, so often what I hear many other followers of Christ say shocks me. I often wonder where is the trust in God? When it comes to politics and all the emotions involved in our country right now, my heart grieves at how many Christians respond. My pastor delivered one of the most amazing messages I’ve ever heard on how followers of Christ should respond in times like this. When it comes to gun control and healthcare and the economy, personally I don’t hear a lot of people who say they’re Christians speak anything about trusting the One who they say they follow. I just hear a lot of fear and anger and accusation. But while I watching the trailer for Independence Day Resurgence, I was reminded of what so many of us in the church don’t think about enough: we too have a common enemy. It’s not the opposing political party, or a certain news network, or an organization or group of people. It is the one the Jesus warns us about in John 10:10. The last few months I have been leading my small group in a study of Matthew and God has challenged my faith and changed my heart. In Matthew, Jesus talks a lot about The Kingdom of Heaven. It has got me looking at what I really believe in light of what the Bible teaches. Not solely what I was taught in church or Bible School, not what Western Christianity or living in the Bible Belt have taught me, but what Jesus said. In particular God has been challenging me in what I believe about the power of The Holy Spirit. Anyone who knows me well knows this is something I have wrestled with most of my life. Although I love my spiritual upbringing, I will say I was taught some whacked out theology by some well meaning adults when I was growing up, to the point that I didn’t pray for years. I had been taught to fear the enemy way more than I should and had been left with the impression that although God is all powerful, He often does nothing. And that silence left me to believe He either wasn’t kind, or I was broken beyond repair and not worth helping. Praise God that isn’t a struggle of mine anymore. Instead I know God the Father is good and faithful and loves us to a degree that I can't find words enough to express. I know through the sacrifice of Jesus I am forgiven of all may past and future sins and that The Holy Spirit is constantly convicting me of my righteousness and my true identity. And I’m learning more and more about The Holy Spirit’s power and God is challenging me through Christ’s words in Matthew. And this morning, I feel Him taking this lesson to a whole new level. I feel Him challenging me to question how much I believe in the common enemy. The Bible is very clear that we all have an enemy who hates us and wants to destroy us. And there are times when I know this and my prayers reflect it. I do often pray that God will protect me and the ones I love from the schemes of the enemy. I pray that what was intended for our harm will instead be used for our good and God’s glory. But I don’t often see my circumstances through that lens. Last week I started to see a pattern of pissiness I was fighting. People who I love where just getting on my nerves and I found myself randomly mad at people. My patience was low, and to be honest, my judgement of foolish behavior was high. I couldn’t put my finger on why or what was going on, but I felt the gentle nudge of The Holy Spirit remind me that I am in fact engaged in a battle. That I do have a very real enemy and that I needed to pray about my mood. I am a big believer that much of the spiritual battle takes place in our mind. Our thoughts and the filter through which we see the world effect every aspect of our lives and when we do not take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and see if they’re from God or not, then we will not live in the freedom God created us to thrive in. And this morning I was reminded that we all have an enemy and I need to adjust my filter of life when any pain or adversity comes my way. When my heart is broken that a nightclub was shot up and so many lost their lives and instead of mourning the loss of precious ones God created, so many people start shouting their propaganda and pointing fingers before even a day has passed. And no matter where we fall on all the issues involved, I think we can all agree that there are many broken lives in our country. People are hurting. People are broken. Kids cut themselves to numb the pain. Many people point fingers and get all angry so they don’t have to feel the pain. Vulnerability is something we fear and avoid at all cost. In fact we have made numbing pain and discomfort into a multi million dollar industry from constant entertainment available, never slowing down, drinking and eating till the void is temporarily filled and so many other ways available to keep our focus off of what we really feel. And I realize that my heart hurts this morning because it feels as if the enemy is winning. I look around and I don’t see much of the abounding love that Jesus taught us about. I don’t see the healing and the miracles He told us we would do (John 14:12). And I don’t see many people living out trusting The One Who Created. It feels like the enemy is winning… But he’s not. He just fooled us for a little bit and today I feel like my eyes have seen with new clarity what my part is in this. First I will pray because my God is bigger than all of the fears and anger and hate trying to define the world and trying to fill my heart right now. And God is a good, loving God who created all of us to live out in the freedom that comes from knowing we are passionately loved by the Creator of the universe. And then I am going to ask God to change my filter through which I see the world. When I’m tempted to ignore the pain I feel or get upset over the upcoming election or get mad at someone not representing our country well, and get overwhelmed with all the brokenness that seems to be becoming the norm, I’m going to see it through the lens of knowing who the real enemy is. So today, if God brought you to read this little babble of my heart, and you are a follower of Christ, I’m asking you to join me in prayer. Join me in praying that God will stop all the schemes of the enemy set against you and the ones you love and the ones you do life with. Pray that we will see things as they really are and that we will realize that we do have an enemy but it isn’t anyone with skin on (Ephesians 6:12). Join me in prayer that God will unify all His children to pray and fight the common enemy and that we will see a change in the culture. We serve a powerful and good God who wants to do a miracle in the lives of each person He created in His image.