Devil Made You Do It
I have a friend who seems to be struggling with a few of her sisters in Christ. From the vantage point of the peanut gallery, I can tell you there is plenty of fault to spread around for the struggles happening. Strong personalities, people taking offense, and pride are all in the very heart of what is unfolding. I too have caught myself in the midst of this. Something that annoys you and you vent a little too much to a friend instead of praying about it and either letting it go or addressing it out right. Here is the thing. It is not about these people, it is the enemy…the devil attacking all that can be accomplished if they work in one accord.
If you have ever read “The Art of War” or any other book on strategy you will find some coaching on being subtle, patient and knowing your enemy. Trust me for every strategy we learn our opposition learns the exact same thing. One of Sun Tzu’s quotes translates to “All war is deception”. Satan declared war on everything Holy…that includes us. My friend, Jeanette, says this is a battleground, not a playground in nearly every faith conversation. She is a woman of fierce faith and a treasured sister in Christ. She is right though. We are on a battleground. The difference is we can walk as conquerors and the enemy wages war. His war is seeped in deception, after all he is the father of lies.
Now take a look at the image of Satan to the left. If that showed up and tried to impose itself in your life, your conversations or in any other capacity of your life you would run, call the preacher for back-up and seriously resist the devil. When you encounter a demon, red and charred with horns and 666 etched into his forehead…you don’t invite it for coffee at Starbucks. When the enemy shows up as an offense to our personal rights, our “holy” sensibilities or some other aspect of us being wronged…it’s much easier to offer it our time and a Venti Hazelnut Iced Coffee.
I do not get offended as I once did, I firmly believe that is the growth of my personal relationship with Christ pushing away that selfish inclination to be offended all the time. Besides, getting offended tends to stress us out and make us miserable. It is a lot of work to hold a grudge. As Christians it is easy to say we have been wronged and build walls between ourselves and others. How many great works of God have been stifled by clashing personalities? If we look close and see the motivation, the delivery is so much easier to process. We have to start recognizing the enemy. We must recognize the tricks Satan uses to create conflict in our assembly. Om pther words, fight the enemy not each other.
But I Don’t Like Them
God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Honestly, I can be a pain in the butt sometimes. I want things done just so, I fret over little stuff, I am sarcastic, and my sense of humor is different. I promise you I can work your nerves if you give me enough time. I do not do it intentionally, it is simply how I am made. When I get nervous, I talk a lot and I talk fast. When I feel inferior, I whip out big words and fancy phrases to reflect my high level of education. (I’m also a bit of a dork that likes big flowery words). These are things that drive other people nuts in my presence. (Probably why I am working with teenagers so much.)
Some people are simply not going to want to spend time with me. I am not their “cup of tea”. We have different interests, experiences, and are at different stages in life. That’s cool, because we can still work together. We can still love each other without wanting to spend our every waking moment together. In God’s grace we can move beyond big personalities. Offense does not have to be a regular part of our life.
So here is the challenge. Consider the one or two people who rake your nerves or seem to always offend you in some way. Now put their names at the top of your prayer list. Pray for grace to accept them as they are and be a benefit to them. (Notice I said be a benefit TO THEM, not he other way around.) I am not saying you are going to become besties, but you never know what God has in store when we put it in his hands. Keep the enemy where he belongs…under the feet of the conquerors!!
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37