There once was a man standing in a magnificent garden. A place full of life. A place where life flourished. But the man’s story is about to go sideways and so are the stories of his wife and his children down through innumerable generations.
Every movement toward God will be opposed.
You know this. You may not have named it in that way, but you know it’s true. All you need do is to take a simple, honest look at your own life and the lives of those around you. It’s so rare to find a person who is truly living the “Tov Life” and creating an environment where life can flourish.
Adam was created in God’s image to rule and care for the kingdom God had just created. But there is a problem. Genesis 1 & 2 gives way to Genesis 3 and, as a result, Adam relinquished the rule of the kingdom God had just given him to the Evil One. Through that act of passivity, Adam’s distrust in the goodness of God, and because of whose image we bear, we too are assaulted.
As John Eldredge so eloquently stated - "The story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it."
In Revelation (12:17), the Apostle John recounts … “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring – those who keep God’s commands and hold fast to their testimony about Jesus.”
However, most of us, me included, spend the majority of our days pretending there is no war, and all is well. I am reminded (this will definitely date me) of one of the last scenes in the movie “Animal House” where the lone ROTC Cadet is standing in middle of the town square shouting at the top of his lungs, “ALL IS WELL!” while all “hell” is breaking loose around him.
“Open war is upon you; whether you’d risk it or not.”
You have been wounded, diminished, and opposed by the three forces of darkness set against you … the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.
The World Anything in the culture that entices you to put your hope in or reliance on anything other than God
The Flesh The pull of our sin nature that takes us to self-reliance, self-gratification or self-medication
The Devil The active being, opposed to God, who was cast out of heaven and actively and maliciously acts to separate us from God and from each other
The person God created you to be, the man or woman he wishes to use to impact the world with, has been assaulted. This becomes especially true as we move to align ourselves with the heart of God. Remember, every movement toward God will be opposed.
What do we do about it? How do we answer the opposition that is part and parcel to our everyday Christian life?
There are many practices and tools to help us here (contact me if you’d like some additional ideas) but the most effective and powerful things we can do to combat evil are to Love God and Love others. (Matthew 22:36-39). Love is the most powerful weapon we can proclaim and invoke against the Evil One and his dark servants.
If we are to seriously engage the battle we are already in, we must practice the first part of the “Shema” … daily.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-5
And second, we must love others.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” – Proverbs 10:12
But, while we are Loving, we must also remember to guard our hearts. Not because they contain evil that must be controlled or because they are the root of evil but because, as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), our deepest thoughts, intent and actions flow from our hearts and our hearts are the source of our life in God.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” – Proverbs 4:23
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19
Our hearts are where we do our most important thinking, where our convictions are formed, and where we realize our union with God.
A simple but effective prayer to carry in your heart throughout your day is:
“Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit – Your Glory, Your Love, Your Kingdom. In me, over me and through me. Amen”
"In me" to sustain me. "Over me" to protect me. "Through me" that others would see God's love in all I do and say.
Easier said than done you're thinking? What will you do in the face of the assault? Will you cut and run or, will you put on your amour (Ephesians 6), resist the devil (James 4), and lean into God to create an environment where life can flourish?
“All your life you’ve been asleep. Make straight the way of the King. He is here to awaken the earth. But some will not want to waken. They are in love with the dark. I wonder which one you’ll be?” – John the Baptist to Nicodemus, The Chosen, Season 1, Episode 4