Posted By Denise Miller Holmes on Tuesday
Savvy Article #1002
The world is teeming with Christians who leave churches and hibernate because other believers have deeply wounded them. Many of the wounders are pastors and leaders.
I used to think the biggest reason Christians treat each other despicably was interpersonal ignorance and lack of responsibility. I’ve heard leaders judge the wounded for leaving. “You don’t leave church just because you’ve been hurt. . . .”In my experience, there are few leaders who take responsibility when they wound another, and even fewer actively teach their followers how to behave in love toward each other.
But a new culprit has come to light, and it has to do with American Christians’ false beliefs about Satan.To many Christians in the United States, Satan is a lazy, beer-drinking slob, who is past his heyday. He sits in his double-wide, waves a menacing hand at his minions and screams, “More Cheetos! Now! American Idol is about to come on!” Once in a while, Satan gets in a hard punch, like floods or 911. But, mostly, the battles we face are people problems, government problems, or general life problems. Satan is not the problem.
The Bible disagrees. “Satan is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
I wonder how Christians would act if they actually believed that verse. Would we be more compassionate, tender, forgiving, kind and loving to each other? Would we listen more and take the time to get into each others’ worlds? Would power plays and pettiness become infrequent guests to our relationships?
Yes, because there is nothing as powerful as a common enemy, a true enemy, to unify a group of people.
Let’s think 911. The day of the attack, we saw Congress singing on the Capital steps, and every American was our ally.
Congressmen let go of disagreements and said that the only thing that mattered was our brotherhood as a nation. Unity was the word. Some of the talk was sentimental congress-speak, but a lot was genuine. Interviews on the streets reflected the same mentality . . . now was the time to forgive our fellow American and be friends.
One might be tempted to argue that there is one thing more powerful than a common enemy … the Love of God. Well, yes, the Love of God is powerful to unify, but it must be thoroughly realized to have its full effect.
Last I checked, American believers are still backbiting, gossiping, rejecting, betraying, and committing a whole host of other hurts to fellow brothers and sisters. Most of them, when asked, will tell you they believe in the Love of God.
The Twin Towers attack taught us a lesson about this too. Starting the day of and for months after, the nation crammed into churches! We spoke of God, and prayer, and love. This was an amazing phenomenon, but we shouldn’t be surprised because there is nothing as powerful as an enemy to make us realize, and cling to, the Love of God.
According to Scripture, Christians are supposed to be unified and clinging to God, with a common vision and goal.
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17: 22, 23 (NIV)
Combine the above verse with the one below, and you’ll see that our true enemy is not other people:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)
In other words, our focus is not supposed to be on gaining power over each other—bickering over what color of foyer carpet to choose, why John shouldn’t head the pastoral-search committee, or what others thought of our brownies at the bake sale. Sorry, none of this matters.
What matters is that we love God, love each other (and all that entails), build the kingdom of God on this earth, and fight our Enemy—together!
The body of Christ is not the Rotary club, but, we often treat it like it is.
We are to be united under the banner of a loving God, with our focus on God, and marching forward against a common enemy.
When we march forward, we may leave behind a chartreuse foyer carpet, a fumbling idiot in charge of the committee, and a bake sale everyone hated. But, with the focus where it needs to be, none of that will matter.