Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Most Effective Tactic of the Enemy

Back when I was in my twenties I knew everything, but now that I'm in my fifties a lot of things are a little bit more vague.  So I'm not sure exactly where I fall on the pendulum between "we are daily involved in intense spiritual warfare where angels are fighting demons with swords" and "angels and demons don't exist, it's just us as people living our lives" but I am going to write this post from a perspective that at least acknowledges that there are forces of evil that battle forces of good in this world.  And, for the sake of explaining it, I am going to use the word enemy in reference to the devil, Satan, or the forces of evil in this world.   That being said, I firmly believe that I understand the enemy's most effective tactic.

You may recall a book called "The Screwtape Letters" by C. S. Lewis.  The book is a series of letters to a demon instructing him on how to best defeat Christians.   I am pretty sure I got the idea for this blogpost from the book, but I can't find the exact quote.  Wanted to say that so that it does not appear that I am plagiarizing an idea.

So, what is the most effective tactic of the enemy?  Get em fighting about.... well.... pretty much anything.  If Christians are busy fighting each other, then they will not have time to fight the enemy -- nor will they have time or energy to do what they've been called to do.

The movie War Room made this pretty clear in the family setting.   The main character was taught by a wonderful older woman how to pray.  And she made it very clear that the enemy was not the woman's husband, but the devil himself.   Many families are so busy fighting with one another, that they aren't joining together to fight the enemy -- or to deal with the bigger things outside of their family that together they could tackle -- helping others, being involved in their churches, doing good in the world.

If you go to church you know for sure that this is the enemy's best and greatest tactic is used daily in the local church.   I have been a pastor's wife for nearly 20 years, and it happens in most churches.  People joke about it even, but the color of the carpet can take up thousands of hours of people's time and cause church splits.  If I can spend twenty hours a week and meetings at church arguing about how to best use the resources God has given us, I can ignore the poverty, pain, and crisis outside the doors of my church.  Because really, I'm way too busy with church stuff to meet the needs of a dying world.

If you are part of an organization that is making a difference in the world, you are going to be immediately attacked by the enemy.  Whether you are a volunteer or a paid employee, if you are not careful you will get caught into a system that is under threat of being controlled by an enemy.  If conversations in the soup kitchen are about how so and so never where's her hairnet and how disgusting that is, it has already begun.   Instead of focusing on the homeless they serve and how to best minister to them, suddenly people have their attention consumed by whether or not kitchen standards are being met.

And dare I take this one step further?   What about the church as a whole?  Jesus, in John 17 when he was praying for his disciples, prayed for us.  Yup, you, and me.  He said, "My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." 

Some days I wonder whether or not we could be farther away from that than we are right now.  Choose an issue in society, any issue, and see the diversity of opinions on that issue.  And diversity isn't a bad thing.  But if you look at the way that Christians are fighting (don't even look at your Facebook feed unless all your friends agree on everything) you will see why the church universal has become so ineffective.    The opposite of Jesus' prayer has come true.   We are NOT one and the world does NOT believe that God sent Jesus.   Again, it isn't the diversity of opinions that is killing us -- it's the WAY we treat each other when we disagree.

So what's the first step in fighting back?  Recognizing what is happening.  Ephesians six gives us a clear blueprint.   First of all it recognizes that fighting each other is not the struggle. (vs. 12:  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rules, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.)   

Then Ephesians 6 tells us how to fight back.   With truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the word of God and prayer.  The armor of God.  

Over the next several days I hope to blog about each of those and how they can help us in our fight against this one tactic of our enemies in our families, our local churches, the places we work or volunteer, and the church world wide.

You may be facing a situation in one of those areas that seems impossible, but we are on the side of the one who has overcome the world.  We have God on our side and so, if we work together, there is no way we can lose.  Decide which area of the ones above you want to tackle first and join me!

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