After the latest horrific events in Orlando, it is obvious that there is evil in the world and it appears to be growing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see it. We all continue to be taken back with each attack, even though we knew after the last one there were likely to be more. Each one takes a piece of our hearts with it. Even those who don’t believe in God or a “higher power” can bear witness to the age old conflict of Good vs. Evil. The evidence is seen in the blood of the victims and the rush of aid that comes to comfort and heal. The sharp contrast between darkness and light.
I personally believe the verse that says, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, powers and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Despite what some will tell you, history shows us that there is not one person or people group that is evil in and of itself. Evil uses any available vessel. What makes a person or group of people available? Pride. It’s pretty simple. A superior thought pattern. That is all it takes. Each of us has the capacity to be used and if we think we couldn’t be, we are already half way there.
We might say I would never do such terrible things…do not kid yourself. Every evil act by one person is the result of many influences. Voices speak loudly. The random thoughts that come out of our mouths are not always filtered by love, but more often by fear or its cousin hate. Add a certain tone, a certain background, a certain belief system and soon the evil takes hold, pumping its thoughts into a brain. Just one. One who has a lifetime of preparation by listening to words spewing forth from all directions. One who is blinded. Just one. One who decides to make a statement of their own using violence instead of words. The resulting carnage breaks us, increases our fear, ramps up our boldness of speech, and the cycle repeats itself…over the ages. One thing that can be said about evil is that it is consistent in how it operates.
When I look at the verse and it says, ‘our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood’ that rules out some things. People for example. Replace the words flesh and blood with whoever you think is responsible for evil. Our struggle is not against the politicians. Our struggle is not against the LGBT community. Our struggle is not against Christians. Our struggle is not against gun owners. Our struggle is not with refugees. Our struggle is not against Muslims or any other religion. Our struggle is not even against terrorists. You read that right. They are FLESH AND BLOOD…so they are NOT our struggle.
Blowing up people will not stop evil. Killing them will not stop it. It will simply jump to a new host. Evil can do that. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy…so joining WITH him in these things isn’t the answer to the problem. I know these words will ruffle the feathers of half of my friends and have the other half cheering. Evil will always come back around and use the next prideful vessel. Kill one and you make many more. Evil eats death for fuel. Spilled blood nourishes it. No, to combat evil we must combat…pride…one of the “spiritual forces” the verse talks about which consumes us. Pride in all its forms…conceit, arrogance, egotism, smugness, judgement, vanity, self-importance, snobbery, superiority, pompousness, pretentiousness, and narcissism. And how do we do that?
Not by electing the right person. Not by blaming. Not by blowing things up. Not by building walls. Not by joining with evil nor by standing passively and letting it have its way. Not by allowing it to run rampant. None of these things work…as we have seen over the course of history. It is much closer to home than that. We battle evil by getting on our knees in the privacy of our prayer closet. We do not pray protective prayers that keep us in our bubble “Keep us safe. Help us to not have pain. Help our country to be great.” Instead we get real. We sincerely and genuinely ask God to pull our own pride out by the roots. We wait for him to do it…IN US…because when you ask sincerely, he takes you at your word. When he shows us, we lie on our faces and we humbly beg for the courage to love. We pray powerful prayers for the boldness to stand up and love against all forces of evil that try to snuff it out. We have the audacity to believe that perfect love CASTS out fear. And that when fear is gone, pride makes its exit as well. We pray to be brave when our hearts tell us to love instead of hate. We go on the offensive…in our homes…in our closets…on our knees. It is the most powerful thing we can do. It will do more to win the war against terror than any other action we take. It is doing battle in the heavenly realm. It is believing that our words spoken in prayer are the most powerful weapon. It is putting on our armor and bowing our heads to the most formidable position…humility. It is calling out in surrender to love, “I give up! Take me as prisoner. Teach me your ways.”
Do not be deceived by the terror that wants to divide us and isolate us. Evil is a swindler and a trickster and will have us turning against one another to have its way. Evil whispers to us, ‘It is so much easier to battle flesh and blood. You can see flesh and blood. You can go to where it lives. You can knock on its door and exploit its weaknesses because it is like you. You are familiar with flesh and blood.’ It is so much more difficult to see the powers of darkness that influence us. Yet that is what we are instructed to battle. The death in Orlando is appalling. The climbing death toll of this terroristic time in history is unacceptable. Evil is having its way. We must stop fighting flesh and blood, and instead look into our own hearts. We must allow God to remove the pride there and give us the courage to love as he loves…unconditionally.