Tears streaming and smashed finger waving my middle daughter approached me. Bending low and listening in on her muffled cries I concluded that her younger sister had slammed the pantry door and caused her this great pain.
One of my children is always causing another pain. This is then followed by a cry for help and placing of blame. She did this. He did that. Jovee hurt me. Or Sparrow took that. As a parent of three small children, I’ve caught onto a trend of our broken and fallen nature and our reactions to it.
That same scenario is happening in our world on a larger scale with racism, abortion, human trafficking, and many other social injustices. We are hurting each other, and it’s arousing a variety of responses within the human race.
We see people turning a blind eye. We see people speaking out. We see people placing blame. We see people rallying around their causes. We see them rising to the occasion. We see them cowering away.
But at the end of the day are we responding as I have too many times with my children. Are we trying to modify the behavior of others in hopes that the pain will stop?
Because as I’ve figured out rather quickly, it doesn’t work. My children may stop for a moment, but it isn’t long before another incident occurs and demands my attention.
I imagine God feels the same frustration as we rally around a cause long enough to mend things until another news report surfaces and we’re back to square one.
This vicious cycle has been happening since the beginning of time. It started in the garden when Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Adam and Eve were confronted by God they blamed one another and then they blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:12-13).
But did that change the pain that they had caused themselves and all of humanity? Did rising and pointing fingers change anything? Does that ever change social injustices? Would me hating my daughter that slammed her sister’s fingers change the real problem on our hands?
When I look at the word I see that the answer is a hard no. That cycle and blame game is a distraction from the root of the problem and when we don’t deal with the root it doesn’t matter how many times we rally around a cause or protest or speak up our efforts are in vain.
Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
If I’m entangled in breaking up fights between my children I have missed a million opportunities to fight against our real enemy. If the enemy can distract us with pointing fingers of blame at one another, he has won the battle before it’s even begun.
We have to know who we’re fighting.
We have a real enemy. He presented himself to Eve in the beginning. But if we look to the end of the Bible we see he is defeated in the end by two things.
Revelation 12:11 (NLT) “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.”
If we can take our blinders off and stop pointing fingers long enough to realize who the real enemy is then we can go to battle against him. We are not helpless against this enemy. Revelation tells us that we win this battle, but we have to do our part.
No behavior modification of other sinful humans changes what we’re at war against.
Sin is our problem. And we can only deal with sin one way. Through Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
John 14:6 (NIV) “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
My children hurt each other because they are sinful. And God’s children hurt each other because we are sinful. We can’t blame one human or one type of human for this. We are all to blame. And we desperately need God’s intervention.
And our God delivered. Because of what Jesus did on the cross we don’t have to remain guilty anymore. God made a way for us to be forgiven and to be made new. That part of the battle is secure.
So what about the second part? How does our testimony defeat the enemy?
All of us that are rising up and want to see something done about these injustices. All of us parents that want to see our children living in unity. What we have to do is so simple it might knock your socks off.
We have to let God sanctify us and work in our lives.
The enemy is defeated by our testimony because when we faithfully follow God in obedience we make a ripple in the world. People look on at our lives and they see God working on us, in us and through us. We become the image bearers we were created to be (Genesis 1:26). That ripple goes out and it encourages others to make those changes and to let God work on their own hearts. The ripple grows with each person inspired to live in obedience to God.
And before you know it the enemy has a real battle on his hands. He has a tsunami-sized wave of believers united together against him. No longer at war against one another, and covered in the blood of the lamb.
But this takes time. It’s not as glamorous as the immediate gratification of behavior modification. It’s not that quick hit of temporary justice we get when we rally against those who have hurt us by lashing out. The injustices don’t immediately stop. The pain still occurs. The squabbles still go on between my toddlers. But if we are faithful, gradually over time we start to change. And the change becomes undeniable to those around us and they begin to hunger for it too.
The world says quickly get justice. The world says do whatever to make the pain stop immediately. My frustration with my kids tells me to react however to get the conflict to stop. However, we have to ask are we truly creating change or putting a bandaid on a bullet hole?
Romans 12:2 (NLT) “Do not copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Much like in the garden of Eden death didn’t immediately occur like we may have thought when Adam and Eve ate the fruit God asked them not to eat. Neither does our sanctification process. Becoming more like Jesus and reacting as Jesus would takes time. It happens little by little, right reaction by right reaction, a choice to obey God compiled with another choice to obey God. In doing so God can chisel away at our own sinful hearts of stone until the whole world is changed and God’s kingdom reigns on earth as it is in heaven. That is when justice will be served and all wrong will be made right. That is how I get my children to live in unity. That is how God’s children learn to band together with Him, and that is how our enemy Satan is defeated.