Sunday, August 10, 2008

Flesh & Blood

You know how someone can get under your skin and it can drive you crazy, to the point of near obsession? Maybe it's a co-worker or a relative. Maybe it's a classmate from back in the day; you still might have a grudge. The point is, we can become angry (with good reason, many times) and focus on this person. It can eat you up, as you mentally pour over all the little details and what exactly you don't like about the person.

If, in fact, we are right and just in our anger against said person, what should we do? I believe the answer comes from Ephesians 6:12. "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." So many times, we focus on this person and see their face in our mind's eye when our anger rises. We hold them personally accountable and hate can take root in our spirit.

If I ask myself what Jesus would do, I think he would look past the obvious and shallow first layers that our reactions usually lead us to. Jesus fully engaged the spiritual realm when He walked this earth. He looked into that realm and spoke to the active parties. One thing I can learn from this is to ask the Lord for wisdom and to pray into what's really happening. In my earthly "wisdom" I can perceive lots of motives and become very angry at the person. However, with the extra firepower of God's Spirit, I'm more inclined to know the heart of the matter. More importantly, I could begin praying for the person instead of cursing them in my anger.

Now the question arises: can you always hold the "spiritual realm" fully accountable for a person's actions? When does the person take some sort of responsibility for their actions and attitudes? This is where I'm not sure. I don't know how to discern when a person is responsible for their own actions versus when to target the "spiritual forces of evil" that might be acting through that individual. For me, this is when I lean on prayer and God's wisdom.

This makes me think, though. When we engage in warfare of the physical, like what's happening now in the Middle East, we are not shooting ammunition of prayer at our enemies. It's bullets that infilct the mortal wound. How do I reconcile this to our struggle not being against the flesh and blood we're killing? Sometimes this is necessary, I suppose.

When I ask for the heart of Jesus in a situation, I believe He sees the person's heart I'm having trouble with. I believe He sees this person from the day they were a baby until the present time. Take the darkest example of our time: Hitler. God created this guy. God loves Hitler, the person, devoid of all the evil actions he inspired and carried out. God saw little boy Hitler, playing in a field. God saw the young man, Hitler, who wanted to be an artist and get into art school. (an aside: I really think the person on the board of that art school where Hitler was denied access had a huge amount of regret. Who knows what the world would've been like if the only mention we heard of Adolf Hitler was a brief news clip of some fringe artist whose work sold for a moderate amount at a New York auction?). God sees the heart. This leads me to believe I should always pray for the salvation of a person and ask for God's mercy on their life, regardless of my own anger towards the actions of that person.

Because God sees the heart and because each person is, in the end, accountable for the sum total of their life's choices, there is a judgement on each person. So, even though we can look to the spiritual realm and battle in spiritual warfare, we can't place all blame on said spiritual realm, leaving the person totally innocent. "The devil made me do it," doesn't get a pass here. At some point, the person is responsible. This is tough, though, because the person might go their whole life and be blind to the fact that they were steered and prodded by an unseen realm. Kind of like the Matrix, when Morpheus is revealing to Neo what's really happening beneath the surface.

I don't know all these things. I can only lean on the Spirit of God to give me His heart for people. Let God be the judge of the secrets of men's hearts and agendas.


Dan said...

From what I remember, the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts rejected Hitler because his portfolio consisted entirely of still lifes, and they couldn't get him to render a human figure. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes about his isolation and estrangement from humanity, as it were.

seantk said...

Hey, count me educated. I didn't know the details. I'm not sure if not being able to render a human figure makes you apt to be a ruthless, murderous dictator (I believe we'd have loads more, if that were the case), but it's an interesting point, nonetheless.

laurakirkland said...