“…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; ” “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 1:19; James4:6-7
As I write, the sudden bursts of periodic bomb blasts sound in the distance. My understanding is that they are a part of military drills at the Aldershot Camp. At least I certainly hope that’s all it is! It reminds me of the spiritual battle that rages on around us.
Our warfare is “not against flesh and blood”, but against “spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12). One of the most effective tactics, however, that the Evil One uses is to turn us from rightly seeing him as the enemy, to seeing one another as the enemy. Someone recently lamented to me how sad it is that our church has had some terrible times of conflict. It’s true, there’s nothing pleasant about such times. Yet, I think it is also true that our church has been so wonderfully used of God in the Valley for great good to the glory of God, that the Evil One continually tries and take us out. Hence, it’s imperative to heed the Apostle Paul’s instructions to, “Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
One of Satan’s favourite weapons in his arsenal, is capitalizing on misunderstandings and creating confusion. He hates the light. He loves to stir up dissension by drawing us into dark, negative thinking about one another. He appeals to our prideful desire to be right, to have our own way, to win an argument, to put our opponents in their place, and to look good in the eyes of those who think like us. This is not the way of Christ. It’s not the way of love. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s way of respecting, honouring, and guarding one another’s integrity. Thankfully, we remember the power of the gospel, that the grace and righteousness of Christ has atoned for our sin. Through Jesus we can then humbly pray, as Francis of Assisi did when he wrote:
“O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.”
Through Christ’s resurrection power in us, let’s reckon ourselves dead to our old, self-serving ways, and instead be committed to believe and assume the best in one another. Let’s take care not to fall into Satan’s trap of rash judgements. James tells us that it’s best to be “slow to speak, slow to anger” and “quick to hear” (James 1:19). The more caring insight and empathy we have for one another, the more trust and goodwill we will have in our church family. There’s an ongoing battle for souls, but it’s this kind of love that will result in better resolutions to the difficulties and challenges we face. Best of all, it’s also this kind of love that will bomb blast the Devil right out of here!
Thanks for Meandering along with me,