Back in the day (a few years ago) when I was going to church every Sunday, involving myself in the church activities, etc., I remember a play that was put on. In that play a scripture was recited as a part of the script. I remember that the director mentioned how "so true" that verse was and how she hoped it would hit some folks between the eyes (so to speak), bring some conviction. Now don't get me wrong, I am not trying to criticize the director, because if I did, I would have to turn that gun on myself as well, at least a hundred times! I'm simply relaying a memory that brought this posting into being.
Anyway, I began thinking about all the times I had quoted the scripture in an effort to either defend someone or even try to convict someone that I felt was in the wrong. Never mind prayer and asking for good timing for confrontation... I knew I was right and my pride and arrogance wanted everyone to know it!
In the right timing, when God tells us to speak a word, it is a healing conviction that comes. Outside of His perfect timing, it becomes more like a weapon that brings condemnation. When God's word is used as a weapon, it is extremely damaging. Just think about all the times you've heard of people who said the bible was crammed down their throat, how they were told over and over again that they were going to hell if... that God would punish them if... Now think about where many of those people are now! Many who I've known with this unfortunate "testimony" are far from God and want nothing to do with Him. I can't say that I blame them! One of the greatest gifts God gave us aside from His Son, was used as a weapon against them in an attempt to force submission! Like the victims of alcoholics who detest the smell of alcohol, so the victims of religious dictators detest the smell of religion's stench. Even the slightest scent can put them at odds with you.
Of course God in His wisdom woos many back with His agape love and tenderness, but much healing must take place because of the wounds of religion.
As I said earlier, I am not innocent of this crime. I have in the past (and probably in the present from time to time) wanted to use the bible as a weapon. I have admittedly spoken to others about how the word says this so therefore, this person is in the wrong! Even if the person is in the wrong, it was and is not my place to use the bible in such a way.
The bible says "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12 This means that when we are wronged, we must not use the bible as a weapon on our own human race, but instead as the bible tells us, against spiritual forces.
Now I know I have lost some of you due to the whole spiritual forces thing, but bear with me. Most people recognize that there does seem to be other forces at work in people sometimes. Even such simple things as life experiences that cause people to react certain ways. So in a sense, you're not dealing with the person directly but with their reactions due to past hurts or wounds that have not healed. Therefore we should always pray for healing for these wounds and even the memories associated with them.
It is my belief that when these wounds are allowed to fester over time, it acts like a poison that slowly spreads through the body, driving some people slowly insane and some physically sick. Still others hide it well until it cannot be contained anymore and explodes all over those who happen to be near by. This is what my mentors and I like to call "getting slimed". When you are unlucky enough to be in close proximity of one of these explosions when they happen, you tend to get slimed. You either get hurt or offended or even severely wounded because of the hurtful things that are lashed out uncontrollably. And so the cycle (if not immediately dealt with) continues around and around. Therefore, again, pray for your enemy even when you'd rather deck them or kill them.
But getting back to the W.O.M.D., the bible was meant to be used as a weapon only against spiritual forces, not flesh and blood humans. Though we as Christians need to correct those who err, we must pray for timing and for God's words instead of our own so that the erring person is actually corrected and not cut down and destroyed.
Think about all of the wisdom in the world. Yet nations go to war because of that wisdom when it is used as a weapon against humans, next thing you know, you have kings and popes and leaders going to war believing God is on their side or a cult who's leader is reeling with a pain they cannot deal with so they abuse their flock and lead them astray even to their deaths.
How many millions of people have died because of the christian religion? Some prime examples are:
The Albigensian Crusade: an estimated 200,000 to 1,000,000 people were massacred during the crusade with a brutality that was extreme even for the medieval period and which was initiated by pope Innocent III of the Catholic church. (Wikipedia)
The Northern Crusades: this was an effort to eliminate all pagan religions and peoples in Northern Europe. The official starting point for the Northern Crusades was Pope Celestine III's call in 1193; but the already Christian kingdoms of Scandinavia and the Holy Roman Empire had started to move to subjugate their pagan neighbors even earlier. (Wikipedia)
St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and after: an estimated 10,000 Calvinists were murdered and their houses looted by catholic mobs (Wikipedia)Of course our Christian faith has also been persecuted for centuries as well and continues to this day along with many other religions. Christianity has countless deaths each year even now in the present due to persecution.
Over and over people have used their God and gods as the reason for their madness, as the cause for their wars and the grounds for their persecution of so-called unequal parties. Our desire to have it all and to make everyone submit to our ideas and beliefs has led to war and suffering and pain. While I am not wholly opposed to war, it seems to me that war born out of religion tends to be the worst and most brutal because it is made personal. I have no issue against nations who've been attacked defending themselves and I have no issue against nations who are helping to spread or maintain freedom, but I do have a problem with the church going to war against flesh and blood of any kind.
Jesus never killed anyone in an effort to bring them to His understanding. He waited on God's word and timing and listened for God's direction. He talked to God and listened for response.
I have wanted so many times to use the bible to prove I am right, or to prove someone wrong. I wanted the vengeance it spoke of, but on my terms. Praise God for teaching me to be tight lipped when my flesh was on fire with desire for these fighting words and may He forgive me (as I know He already has) for the times I refused to wait and caused pain and unnecessary suffering in "his name".
We as a church must lay down our physical weapons and pick up the weapon and armor of God which includes the Sword of the Spirit. Instead of doing the devil's work of annihilating people with our words and our "holy" wars, we must refocus our aim into the realm of the spiritual evils. We must pray for healing for our human enemies and hold our tongues when the enemy attacks us in human form. We need to be constantly listening to God and His perspective so that we can react with the grace that will amaze and bring healing to a hurting people. Like the saying goes "you get more bees with honey than vinegar". While this seems like such a weak way to live, you will actually find strength and better results. Like the word says, the way is narrow and so it is. But if we keep our focus on God, it will be much more satisfying than we could ever imagine. It is easy to respond in violence (believe me I would SO MUCH RATHER respond this way 9 times out of 10), but it takes much strength and incredible will power to use wisdom and respond God's way instead.
Blessings and Strength to you All,
"He found His rest in saving you, in loving you." Joseph Prince