Monday, December 19, 2011

Know The Enemy

A Christ-follower reading the Psalms has to contend with Jesus' command in
Matthew 5:44-48 (NLT)

"But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

What do we do when we encounter passages like Psalm 3?

Psalm 3:7 (NLT)
Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked!

I think we have to keep the passage in historical context on one level, realizing that the psalmist was talking about real, physical enemies. It was fully within the Old Testament understanding that God would bless, protect and shield the "insiders" while punishing those outside the covenant. "Us" versus "them" was very much the thinking woven into old covenant theology.

But as Christians I think we also have to realize that our enemies are spiritual forces in high places seeking to destroy humankind in general. We humans now are called upon to unite against this common enemy, manifested in all the spiritual wrestlings within our souls, selves and communities.

"We do not wrestle against flesh and blood," but against the spiritual forces that produce selfishness, hatred, fear and violence of all sorts within us. These are the true enemies that are robbing peace and security from the world.

-- gmc --

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