A recent discussion in a home bible study became contentious when two very different opinions divided the group. As the fellowship shared their feelings about our current state of affairs in the United States, the division of how we should respond as Christians was manifested. One group voiced a need to actively resist the evil around us, even physically if necessary, while the opposing side declared the focus must stay only on the provision of the Father to secure our well-being. Is it possible that both sides are valid and not mutually exclusive?
The Lord’s directive in Matthew 26:41 was to “watch and pray.” Many people watch, but do not pray. Then there is the group that prays, but have no desire to “watch” by keeping themselves abreast of the national and international events that are rushing us toward the climax of humanity. We are exhorted to do both. The scripture in Matthew reads in its entirety: “watch and pray that you enter not into temptation, for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” We have to be spiritually alert to ward off temptation. It is the enemy that is alive and well in this hour roaming around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. We must be welding the two-edged sword of the Spirit. We are both physical and spirit beings and there is usually a response from both dimensions.
Consider David as he took on the mighty Goliath. This is not a parable but a true account of an actual battle. The Philistines had held the armies of Israel in abeyance for weeks. There was not a champion among the ranks that had the courage to take on the giant. Not until David, the shepherd boy showed up with his well practiced sling. You know the rest of the story. The battle hardened hellion fell to the confession and action of a young sheep-tender. David, bravely declared to the fearsome Philistine: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that YHWH is for Israel. All those gathered here will know it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
There are some very important conclusions to draw from this account. First, someone has to stand against evil. The whole Israeli army was gathered on the hills of Judea but no one would counter the taunts of the enemy. Not until David shows up is the will of the Lord displayed before the intimidating forces of the Philistines. Secondly, David already knew the will of the Father in this situation. He had experienced the faithfulness of the Almighty as he stood as the buffer between the sheep and the wild beasts in the fields of Judea. “ But, David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (I Samuel 17) David didn’t just give lip service to victory but, “…as the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.” Understand, there is an acceptable time to take up arms.
Having made the point that we are called to physically defeat evil. We do boldly and unequivocally declare that the victory is ours when the battle is the Lord’s. Our confidence is in the Name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. Consider how Moses instructed the Children of Israel at the crossing of the Red Sea: “ Do not be afraid, stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” There is a time to stand still and see the Salvation of the Lord.
The answer does not lie in “either/or.” It lies in HIM. We are called to watch and pray. Watch, on every level. Watch the Lord . Hear His voice and do what he says to do. Pray: “His kingdom come his will be done.” There is not a blanket response to every situation. The Spirit of God must tell us either to cut off the giant’s head or stand still and see the Arm of the Lord. “The horse is prepared for battle but the Lord gives the victory.” Amen.