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For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
How many times do we face conflict with other people? Some of us more than others, but all of us will at different points, ESPECIALLY if we have decided to follow the Lord and serve Him. This seems to be par for the course.
Last week we determined that we have an enemy, and we looked at some of the ways he tries to come against us and destroy us. One way that I didn’t mention is through other people. He wants us to be at odds with one another. The deeper we get into our relationship with the Lord, the more it will seem like we are receiving undue criticism, even hatred, from others. Sometimes these will be people in the world, and we should expect that. Jesus told us that we should expect not only conflict, but persecution.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” John 15:18-20
Sadly, we are living in a world where this is being fleshed out right before our eyes. In the name of religion, Christians today in many places are being tortured and killed. It is horrifying to hear of what is going on, but at the same time God said that in the latter days these things would take place. Though these people who commit such atrocities clearly stand up as our enemies, they are merely puppets on a string. They are pawns in the hands of the true enemy who wishes to stomp out the name of Jesus and destroy these people in the process. However, Satan can never stop the work of the Lord. Persecution throughout the ages has only strengthened true Christianity, because we have a sure hope beyond this life. We are living for something that they can never take away. We need to pray for those people on a mission to destroy the true Church of God, who are as we speak torturing innocent people, including children. Look at the Apostle Paul, he was a hateful murderer who did everything in the name of religion. If God could save him, surely these people are not beyond His reach.
To dial it down a notch, let’s look at our conflicts with others who claim to be Christians. Those who may even serve in ministry with you. Why is it that they are sometimes the biggest burdens and the hardest to get along with? Satan will use other people, including believers if he can get a foothold, to discourage or disqualify us. Some will be pretenders who have only sought to lift themselves up, others will be genuine believers. However he can, our enemy will try to get a foothold in our relationships. He will try to tear us apart, because when we are so busy fighting each other we cannot fight the real battles that are in front of us.
People are not our enemies. We need to love, forgive, reconcile where possible, and not let ourselves get distracted from what is really going on. We need to examine our own hearts for the ways that we may be hurting others or seeking our own gain, and let the Lord cleanse us afresh. His mercies are new every morning.
Today you are in a battle, but make sure that you are not wasting your energy fighting other people instead of fighting the true enemy of your soul. Satan loves a divided church that is busy back-biting and jockeying for position, while people’s eternal destination lies in the balance.
Remember: Our battle is real, and it is not against flesh and blood.
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Hi, my name is Erica and I am a God-called missionary for Northern Uganda. It is my passion and life-calling to bring God’s word to the people of the world. Each and every one of us can do our part in spreading God’s word to people in need of Jesus’ healing touch and hope. Trying to figure out if God has called you to the mission field? Do you want to learn more about what it’s like to be a missionary? Check out my book, For the Joy Set Before Us – Insights Into the Missionary Journey today.