Aragorn: Stand your ground, stand your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes, the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come, when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves, and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!
I love that quote - I've used it sermons and other blogs. I love the imagery of not letting fear take hold of us and carrying on. But what are we fighting? That's the big question. The scripture tells us that we do not fight against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12)- in other words, we do not fight other people. We fight against spiritual forces. Of course, then we must ask, what does that mean? At different times in my life, my understanding has been different and my answers would have been different. But this is not today's topic.
Several years ago I was at a prayer meeting. One woman who I barely knew at the time but is now is one of my dear friend, arrange to have two other women pray with me. I was struggling in a lot of areas, and while I didn't know the other two women, I trusted that my new friend would not steer me wrong. One of the first things that was said by my friend was she saw me in a war room - she saw me standing over a battle layout. I'd seen a lot of old war movies so sort of pictured a large version of the game board for Risk - the conquer the world game. I saw canons and military armament and generals pouring over it, looking at strategies.
I think she saw the same thing. She said, "Joyce, I don't see you as a general, but you are a strategist. YOU know the strategy that the other's can't see." She went on to say I was not being heard. That seemed very true to me. So many times I offer what I can see, or what I know and no one listens to me.
I've learned a lot more about myself and what makes me tick since that day in Connecticut. I see more and more that I do understand strategy. I see a bigger picture than most. Because I do, I understand our battle differently. I understand that the best way to defeat the enemy is to love your enemy.
That's radical - that's hard. That's the hardest way to win a battle. It is counter cultural. It causes us to die to self and to esteem others more than ourselves. Even the "other" - that one that doesn't look like us, smell like us, or think like us. It means we go as the body of Christ in incarnational solidarity with them. You know, just like Jesus did.
Now that's scary, isn't it? It just goes against everything we've thought before - that's the call of Christ. This brings us back to the quote from Lord of the Rings... the fear in our hearts. The fear to love. The fear to show mercy. The fear to go where people live and love them as your neighbor. To embrace your enemy... That's scary - that's more scary than picking up a sword or gun. It's standing totally defenseless with nothing but love in front of your "enemy."
There is a place for spiritual warfare, I understand that. But as I think of it, I am reminded of the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 -
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
My strategy is love.