Paul’s admonition toward the end of his letter to the church in Ephesus has always been striking to me: “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” (Eph. 6:12). It runs against my inclination to wage a battle against what I can see, touch, and quantify.
During these Covid days, many have mentioned that we are fighting a battle against an unseen enemy, and this point is well taken. But I do believe we have missed the bigger point—there is a greater unseen enemy who may be winning a more important battle.
What this enemy desires to do is use the present world-wide battle against the unseen Covid enemy to confuse and divide. This plays out every day as people shout their opinions with a lack of care for the experience of others and a lack of charity for those who have a different understanding. The truest unseen enemy is successfully using our present battle against a separate unseen enemy to malign the body of Christ.
After the disciples asked Jesus, “how then should we pray?” Jesus responded by ending a prayer with the statement, “deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). Our lack of willingness to recognize Satan’s unseen schemes is ever before us today.
Near the end of World War II a German pastor gave a sermon in Stuttgart about the presence of evil in his home country.
Year by year we have seen an increasingly poisonous atmosphere settling down upon our globe and we sense how real and almost tangible are the evil spirits in the air, seeing an invisible hand passing an invisible cup of poison from nation to nation and throwing them into confusing.Helmet Thielicke
Is he speaking of the mid-1940s or early 2020? Confusion is everywhere. Masks are political. Is going to church an act of defiance against oppression or a life-risking choice? Depends on who you talk to. Are we going to continue to blind ourselves to Satan’s desire to throw us into confusion? Are we going to continue to blind ourselves to our role in that confusion?
The church can and should be the voice of reason while the crowds try to throw us into confusion. During his prophetic ministry Jeremiah refused to give in to the calamity around him. He, like John the Baptist, was a voice in the wilderness pointing to the Savior.
The days of social media mean that everyone has a megaphone, but too often it is Christians who help build the confusion Satan desires. We end up fighting the wrong battle, for the wrong side. Eugene Peterson said about Jeremiah, “While Jeremiah was often in crowds, he was not crowd-conditioned. The crowd did not dictate his message. The crowd did not shape his values” (Run with the Horses).
May the Lord deliver us from all evil; the unseen evil of Satan’s schemes, the unseen enemy moving around the globe. Help us to be voices of clarity, not confusion. Help us to give others charity instead of judgment. May it be so.