Ben submitted this column as fulfillment for his Communications merit badge in Boy Scouts of America. Ben is a sophomore in high school, active in his church worship team at Pleasant View Brethren, and in music programs at school.
It can be very challenging to be a Christian in today's world. We may feel shunned in the workplace, school, or in everyday life. This pressure is enough to push anyone to anger and bitterness. However, I am beginning to see a growing group of Christians who are becoming angrier and bitter.
I understand the feeling of anger. It is very natural. The Message Bible says it perfectly in Ephesians 4:26. "Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry..." However, there is another half to that verse that says, "but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the devil that kind of foothold in your life."
I often hear brothers and sisters discussing politics and the state of the world today. These conversations often bear a lot of truth, but they start to take a turn. As they talk, they become angry at how evil things in society have become routine and accepted. Then they begin to blame people in society. Quickly, government officials, heads of organizations, and - most commonly - political parties become the enemy. Insults start spewing, and all anger is directed at these people. However, I urge anyone in the church who has that way of thinking to reconsider. We are beginning to have the wrong enemy.
We must not forget Ephesians 6: 12, where Paul says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Our battle is not against political parties. Our battle is not against leaders of organizations. Our battle is against Satan and his forces. In that case, we need to fight. Not a fight using angry and judgemental words.
I once heard a fellow believer that I respect say that it was a shame Christians weren't standing up and protesting for a particular political issue. There was such a focus and emphasis placed on the political perspective that it seemed that this person was more interested in having Christians stand up for a political issue unrelated to the Gospel than for the Gospel itself.
I began realizing that there is a rise in the desire to use "Jesus discussions" as a platform to spread political beliefs, rather than use "political discussions" as a lead-in to spread Jesus. The fight I mentioned earlier isn't the kind of battle against Satan some might want. You see, if our fight is against the devil, then we need to stop expending our energy fighting with people who have opposing opinions.
When we fight people, we achieve nothing, and we tarnish Jesus since He is the one who sent us. When Jesus ascended, He told the church to be His witnesses to the world. That is the last thing He said to us. He said, "Go and spread the Gospel. Tell people about me. Spread my love. Follow the example I set. Pray for your leaders. Pray for those that persecute you. Pray for the sick, blind, deaf, and the mourning, that they may receive healing. Be my witnesses."
Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The best way to fight the devil is to bring life, healing, and to the Gospel to as many people as possible before the Lord returns. That is our job. That is our purpose. It is our calling in an ever-dividing country to be a kingdom that doesn't also divide based on things of the world. We would do better to be praying and listening for God's will and to be spreading His word across the globe.
I encourage the church not to lose sight of that purpose. I pray that you would not be discouraged. Never forget Jesus' words when He said, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.