The Conflict of Warfare and Peace
My mom screamed, “stop…don’t hit him”, as I chased my older brother around the house with a board. No one could push my buttons quicker than my brother…come to think of it that is probably still true. I don’t remember the situation that led to my loss of temper, but I do remember that moment. I held a shelf from a bookcase in my hand as I yelled at him and threatened to beat him with it. My mom, ever vigilant, reminded me in hysterical tones that I would go to jail if I hurt him.
Let’s back up for a second. I am not an angry person. In fact, it takes a lot to make me lose my temper. But when I do, look out. My grandfather used to say, “dynamite comes in small packages”. Now he being a good Spirit-filled pastor was probably referring to spiritual things. I would contend anger may also be true…but I digress. In the heat of the moment, I wanted nothing more to shut my older brother’s mouth. However, if I had hit him with the board, that may have been more permanent than I intended.
In perhaps the most famous sermon ever preached, Jesus said many words that conflict with the current tenor of American church conversation. I will underline a few key points.
Matthew 5:3-12 NLT
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
I fear that in our politically charged culture, the Church is failing to realize that we will be persecuted and yet recognize that Jesus, and we, are still victorious. Many in the Church world today seem to pray against what Revelation says will happen. We fight with everything to reverse the political course that will ultimately lead to the rise of antichrist. And in the midst of it, I believe, we greatly weaken our credibility and witness in a lost world that desperately needs the hope of Christ.
I have often said that if my politics tarnishes my witness, I have a spiritual problem. I believe some of this is rooted in what I consider bad theology, Kingdom Now and even aspects of the Latter Rain movements. Yet, do we have authority in Jesus? Absolutely! Are we to fight spiritual battles? Yes! Will we win in the end? Also, yes. Along the way, we must not lose sight of Jesus and Him crucified. We must also keep our eyes on the real enemy. My enemy is not the person that hates me and persecutes me, my enemy is Satan and the spirit of antichrist that is rising in our world.
Case in point, a minister in my city…which will remain nameless, stood in the pulpit and cursed his political enemies…or I should be fair and say those he perceived to be enemies of the USA. This video went viral. Immediately the Spirit spoke to me, “but those he is cursing I created and they need Jesus”. I weep that there seems to be such a conflict between spiritual warfare and being a peacemaker. I know, I know, many will say this is the time for the Church to rise up. I agree, but rather than cursing those that are underhanded and perhaps evil to the core, should we not fall on our knees? We cry out, “Jesus this is your battle to fight and to win. All I can do is trust in you.” Further, should we not recognize that the Bible clearly describes the End Times for us? At some level, if we fight against that, are we not fighting against the ultimate will of God?
You see the conflict yet? Yes, there is a time to bind principalities and powers…not political enemies. There is a time to curse the demonic presence that seeks to control our cities…not people that desperately need Jesus. Some may accuse me of being spiritually weak. That’s OK. I just want to be in line with Jesus…” God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” I strongly believe we have power to move mountains, to break strongholds, and to resist the enemy in the name of Jesus. What we bind will be bound and what we lose will be loosed. Yet, I think of the times the Bible says that Michael the arch-angel would not curse the devil, but said, “the Lord rebuke you Satan”.
James 3:10 reminds us, “And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” I want to be a person that blesses others. Don’t let that make you think I’m not willing to fast, pray and worship as we fight the real enemy of our souls. What that does mean is I want to show myself a peacemaker to my fellow man, so that somehow I might lead them to Jesus.
It is fortunate for my brother and I that I did not hit him with that board…even though I am positive he deserved it. Mom stepped in and probably kept me from walking down a path of cursing. Pastors and fellow believers, maybe we should listen to the Holy Spirit and the words of Jesus. Let us curse Satan and his demonic horde and bless our fellow man…even those that persecute us. I just want to be like Jesus!