Friday, December 29, 2006
Is Warfare the Spirit of Christ?
Dave (who wears a pleated skirt) mentioned the point of this post in a comment to my last post on spiritual warfare. Concurrently JJ the Smu is running a series on spiritual warfare.
"But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village."
Now there is some question whether the response by Jesus is to be found in the text, or whether it was added later, but as Dave (who loves Haggis) mentioned it certainly appears to identify the heart of Jesus. We know that He rebuked the disciples for wanting to call down fire.
Their plan was to toast the heretics. His plan was to seek and save the lost. He spent His ministry breaking down the barriers which man-made religion created - those barriers which kept people from experiencing God. They perceived the rejecting community of Samaritans as heretics who could not scale the walls of true religion to make it in. The disciples saw an us versus them scenario. Jesus saw people He would be willing to give His life for.
Any sense of warlike behavior which identifies other people as enemies needing a violent spiritual remedy, does not appear to be the heart of Jesus to me. Anyone who falls prey to the us versus them thinking appears to have lost some kind of battle already. They perhaps are unnecessary casualties of their own fight, and are taking down other people with them. When we should be helpers together with the rest of the human race to find the way toward God, it seems to me that creating a spiritual war which includes identifying other people as part of the enemy system is something worse than friendly fire - it is almost a kind of treason.
In my city, the enemy is sometimes perceived by Christians to be working closely with the Pagans who live here. I believe in devils, but I do not believe that devils work closely with any human, rather if any work happens they work against all humans. I will not be treasonous, and treat other casualties of any trouble evil spirits cause as enemies themselves.
I believe that Jesus must have said these words, and that they speak to us today as much as anytime in human history. "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them."