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Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:10-12.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a whole new set of adversaries within our society.  Lines are being drawn and people are choosing sides.  The Maskers are squaring off against the Anti-Maskers.  The Vaxers are already staking out positions against the Anti-Vaxers, even though a vaccine is at least months in the future.  The Pro-Economy lobby is in full contention with the Pro-Health and Safety lobby.  There are arguments on each side of these issues, despite the fact that both sides sometimes say the other is senseless. 

Mercifully, the Lord Jesus told us exactly what to do with enemies in Matthew 5:43.  We are to love them. 

This season has given us a great opportunity to learn Paul’s lesson from our text above.  There is clearly a war raging.  But those people who disagree with you are not what you are warring against.  The disagreements within our communities are highlighting the real enemy.  It is an ancient enemy and the war is real. 

The war we wage is against the impatience within us that invites us to throw angry words at those with different opinions rather than trying to understand their ideas.  The war that is raging is against the fear that wells up in us when we think we are physically or fiscally unsafe.  The battles we are fighting are against the selfishness we harbor that wants others to submit to our demands of how they are to live. 

Not only is this war entirely winnable, we can lead the charge in it at any moment.  We don’t need our neighbors to allow us or even our families to join us.  The Lord stands ready to hear our confession and accept our repentance.  The strongholds of fear, hatred, anger, selfishness, and impatience crumble when we invite the power of God to cleanse us in humility. 

Why the Lord has placed us in this time and place is too deep a question for this shallow swimmer.  But if it has revealed sin in you, do not let this time go to waste.  Take up the fight with confession, repentance, and love for those whose words and actions have revealed the enemy within you. 

The Loving Distance of God

All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.”  Exodus 20:18-19

There are times when I don’t feel very close to the Lord.  Perhaps you have experienced it, too.  Maybe you have experienced those times when reading the Bible seems dry and your prayer life feels shallow and the Christian music you try to listen to just annoys you.  You may yearn desperately for the presence of God, but somehow He seems far off.

It is easy in those times to be unhappy, or even angry, with God.  Why does He keep Himself at such a distance?

Remember that proximity to God is a two-edged sword.  We may long for the intimacy with Christ that comes from being in His presence but in that presence also rests God’s purity and holiness, the kind of holiness that cannot tolerate the presence of sin.  Unholy things that come into the presence of God are sometimes destroyed, sometimes with fire.

There is a reason why the Israelites did not want to be in direct communication with God.  They knew enough about God to be afraid of Him, and afraid of what would happen if they brought their sin into His presence.  In this same scripture, the Lord sets boundaries around the mountain in which He was present so that the people did not get too close.

Why was God trying to keep them at a distance?  Was it because He didn’t love them that much?  We know better than that.  The cross of Christ proved the depth of the love of God for all time.  He kept them from getting close, to keep them from destruction.  Is that why God sometimes keeps his distance from you and me? Perhaps.  It is certainly worth considering that if God’s closeness is a measure of His perfect love, so is His distance.  Perhaps instead of being angry, I could be repentant of all the things that separate me from the Lord, and maybe then, He would bring me closer.

There are no more results.