I’m reading an old classic called, The Fight, by John White. Chapter five is an incredible piece on the everyday battle we face, like it or not, between good and evil. Many don’t acknowledge this battle (in the big or the small, chalking it up to ancient religious superstition), and thus denying the existence of dark forces. Or, some are so hyper focused on evil they look ridiculous, supporting the skeptic’s beliefs on the matter. The Devil’s happy at either extreme. Is there a middle road for us mainstream folks to get our heads around this?
There is a battle – it’s real. What the forces at work are is subject to much debate. But here are a few examples of what this might look like in the everyday…
Think of Stuart Smalley (the SNL character). His affirmations remind us of the inner voices we use to battle against…what? Our past? Our upbringing? Our parents? Why is he fighting at all? Stuart is crying out, like all of us, against forces which trip us up, ruin relationships, and generally block human flourishing.
We want to flourish. When not drowning in despair, we demand it. Why?
If we get God into the picture – the deeply misunderstood Creator God from the Bible – who created us to be in relationship with Him – and to flourish – then the fight makes sense. We’re fighting for something for which our humanness longs – words are limited here, but love, wholeness, connection, and relationship come to mind.
Another example of this daily battle may be our striving in the workplace. That is, we seek to climb the ladder of success. The voices say things like you’re not good enough until you get this title, this much money, and are driving this car. And so we fight for these things, rarely confronting the voices to see if in fact they are true to who we are as humans. We seek our identity from what culture dictates, rather than God who desires our flourishing.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes from Jesus, who, in response to a woman who was praising him, corrected her.
As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11: 27-28)
Jesus was saying, don’t build your life, value, and identity on what culture says (e.g., women are only good if they produce children – things haven’t changed much from the 1st century in this area). Rather, build your life with the Father – the Word of God. Follow God, not culture. All other foundations will crumble. Hence the fight.
I don’t know what your particular battle is – maybe alcoholism, maybe depression, maybe constant fighting with your spouse – or maybe you’re in a war zone – these are some of the larger ones. The quieter ones are just as scary. The whispers that repeatedly discourage you from taking a step toward faith. The voices that say all that God stuff is nonsense. The self-righteous voices that cry out, “you can do this all by yourself.”
Maybe your voices are similar to Stuarts – “You’re no good enough, you’re not smart enough, no one likes you.”
These dark voices (forces) need to be dealt with – they need to be confronted. Otherwise you’re a prisoner in the grips of…what? Dark forces? Evil?
What will you use to fight? To flatter ourselves with our own initiative won’t do.
We were created to be in relationship with God – to reflect His glory – His image. This relationship has been damaged. Thus the relationship with ourselves (our identity) has been damaged. Thus our relationships with each other have been damaged. Thus the created world (the one we were supposed to tend and steward) suffers at our hands.
Who is going to fight the battle to fix all this?
Gracefully, Jesus has, announcing and embodying the Kingdom of God, taking upon himself our wickedness on the cross, rising from the tomb, and stepping out, as the Apostle John, and Tom Wright, would emphasize, on the First Day of The Week – New Creation. It has begun – in and through Jesus.
Thanks for reading,