Word for Wednesday…Division
For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12
A few months ago, on Sunday, October 18, I preached a sermon in which I challenged our almost entirely Republican congregation to believe that sincere followers of Jesus could vote for a Democratic candidate. Here is a quote from my manuscript…
“I think who you vote for in this election doesn’t matter to God…as long as you search the Scriptures for guidance, pray about your decision, and vote with a clear conscience. I think two sincere followers of Jesus could do exactly those things and arrive at completely different conclusions.”
As you might imagine, I upset a fair amount of people. Many of our folks could not fathom how a Christian could ever vote for a Democrat, and especially Joe Biden. Interestingly, I received an email from someone who does not attend our church, who had listened to the sermon online, and also found my words extremely difficult to hear, but for the opposite reason! She could not fathom how a Christian could ever vote for Donald Trump.
I think these two very different reactions to the same sermon are indicative of the extreme division that exists in our country, and in many cases, within churches. And one reason I believe we are so divided is our failure to recognize the true enemy we are facing. It is not FOX news or CNN. It is not Republicans or Democrats. It is not Donald Trump or Joe Biden. No, our enemies, as the passage quoted above reminds us, are the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” The devil and his minions, the spirits of lies, anger, hatred, fear, etc. are the ones who are threatening to destroy us, not our fellow human beings, and as long we fail to recognize this, we are fighting a losing battle.
The news outlets, political parties, and politicians mentioned above have all been guilty of doing evil things (and we should not hesitate to identify these things as such and hold these individuals accountable), but it’s not because they themselves are evil. It’s because they have allowed evil spirits to guide their thoughts and actions. If we’re not careful, those evil spirits will get ahold of us as well. But as followers of Jesus, we are not consigned to this fate, because he has complete authority over evil, and through his power, so do we. The next time you feel hatred or anger welling up in your heart toward another human being, and most especially a fellow believer, pray for them, and pray for yourself, that you would “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).