The Battle, It’s Spiritual, not Political

1 Samuel 17: (MSG)
10  I challenge the troops of Israel this day. Give me a man. Let us fight it out together!”
11  When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine’s challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope.

2 Corinthians 10:  (MSG)
1  And now a personal but most urgent matter; I write in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ. I hear that I’m being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I’m with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters.
2  Please don’t force me to take a hard line when I’m present with you. Don’t think that I’ll hesitate a single minute to stand up to those who say I’m an unprincipled opportunist. Then they’ll have to eat their words.
3  The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will.
4  The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.
5  We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.
6  Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
7  You stare and stare at the obvious, but you can’t see the forest for the trees. If you’re looking for a clear example of someone on Christ’s side, why do you so quickly cut me out? Believe me, I am quite sure of my standing with Christ.
8  You may think I overstate the authority he gave me, but I’m not backing off. Every bit of my commitment is for the purpose of building you up, after all, not tearing you down.
9  And what’s this talk about me bullying you with my letters?
10  “His letters are brawny and potent, but in person he’s a weakling and mumbles when he talks.”
11  Such talk won’t survive scrutiny. What we write when away, we do when present. We’re the exact same people, absent or present, in letter or in person.

No one likes a bully, except the bully.  They pick on the weak and the vulnerable.  It has been my experience and observance that most bullies suffer within themselves because they feel down on themselves.  So, to make those around them think he is tough he singles out one from the crowd and tries to humiliate, embarrass the weakest in the crowd.  For the others who are weak and vulnerable they give in to the bullies’ wishes and tend to trend carefully around him for fear that they will be next.

My public school years and the first year of high school was nothing short of a horror movie.  I was the one that the school yard would single out to pick on.  You see, I was not the school athlete, I was small for my age.  I didn’t have all the brute strength that others my age had.  So, I was singled out, beaten up, to the point if I could I would have rather have died then to go back to school the next day. 

So, during every recess, lunch time and school day finish, I developed a way to avoid the bullies. I would rush out the school doors and run as fast as I could to get home without being noticed.  On the way to school I would often leave home early so that I would arrive at school before the rest of the students.  I would volunteer to help teachers so that I didn’t have to be out in school yard.

In my eighth year as my family were sitting down for supper there was a knock on our front door.  My mother went to the door, opened it, and there stood my grade eight teacher.  I was terrified, trying to run through the day to see if I could remember anything I had done that would justify his arrival at my home.  He asked my mother if he could speak to her for a moment.  Well, they spoke.  He had a recommendation to my mother concerning me.  He wanted her to agree to hold me back one year because he felt I was too small for my age entering into high school.  My mom decided that she would allow me to move on to high school.

There was a grade 8 graduation celebration and my mom attended.  It felt great to me because in my thoughts I figured that my bullied days were now at an end.

Just before school let out for the summer break my teacher took me aside, he wanted to speak to me and give me some advice about going into high school.  His advice was this, if you start being bullied, pick the biggest one in the crowd, grab them by the hair, and shove their head into the nearest locker.  He told me once I did this, the bullying would stop.

Sure enough just around the second week into my first high year a bully came along.  Here I was going through the nightmare again, well, I remembered the words of my teacher, so, I grabbed the bully by the hair and shoved him into the locker.  You could see the shock of all the other kids, and more importantly the shock and bewilderment of the bully when he caught his wind and stood upright again.  From that moment on the bullying stopped.  Yet, one thing did not stop that day, the feeling that I was inadequate, the odd boy out.  I didn’t fit in with the athletes, and I really didn’t fit in the brainy bunch.  So, I went through my high school years not really having a close friend.  Yes, I was cordial during school, but after school I would immerse myself in my homework, part-time jobs, and my Bible studies along with my music.

In Sunday School were are told by the teachers about how David conquered Goliath.  Children are told that we should be like David.  It appeals to most children, the idea of bringing down a giant.  It is the great good overpowering evil story.

I though when I would read the story related more to the army of Israel.  Here they were being bullied by Goliath and they were losing men to this giant.  He was threatening Israel’s very existence.  Saul was king of Israel, he called his generals to line up the soldiers to ask for volunteers to fight Goliath.  The threats did what all bully’s threats are meant to do, intimidate.  No one from the army of Israel took a step forward to meet the giant on the battlefield.  Goliath found this great folly, and again mocked Israel to send someone to fight him.  I’m sure Goliath could smell the fear coming from the Israel camp.

Now, somewhere out of the sound of war was a shepherd boy, name David.  The son of Jesse’.  David tended his’ father’s flock of sheep.  Day and night David was the faithful protector of the sheep.  He was successful fighting off the wolves, the fowl of the air and yes, even a bear.

His father, Jesse, called him out of the field one day.  Jesse had an errand for David to run.  David was to take a packed lunch for his brothers out on the battle field.  David arrives on the front lines to find his’ brothers.  While with his’ brothers he can hear the roar of the giant and the challenges he is making to the army of Israel.

Again, King Saul is standing before his troops looking for anyone who will go to battle with Goliath.  Again, no response.  Time is passing quickly, eventually David steps forward and tells the king that he would go and face the giant.  Saul looked at David, a mere boy, ruddy, a frail looking kid.  One that most likely Goliath could snap like a brittle twig on a tree.

Finally, David begins to speak to Saul about why he feels he is qualified to fight the giant of the Philistines.  He recants his memories of how he warred against the wolves, the fowl of the air and the bear to protect his’ father’s sheep.  David tells Saul that the same God that gave him victory over the beasts will also give him victory of Goliath.

The king finally relents, he has his generals get the best armour from the kings tent.  They place it on the small boy, and it was quite the sight to the eyes.  It overwhelmed David because of its size compared to David’s.  He sheds the king’s armour and declares that he cannot use it because he had not tried the armour.  Instead, he walks over to the nearby brook, bends down, picks up five smooth stones and places them in his pouch near his sling.

He steps out onto the battlefield in front of the giant.  Goliath must have let out a hearty laugh, and roared towards the army of Israel and made the statement, I asked for a man and all you send me is a mere boy.  David, however, responds to the ridicule of Goliath by declaring to Goliath the same things he had told Saul.  He declares to the giant that the God that gave him those victories would give him victory over the giant.  David reaches into the pouch filled with those five stones.  Takes out a stone, places it into the cradle of the sling.  Starts to swing it above his head then releases.  The stone within that sling flies through the air towards Goliath, the stone lands directly between the eyes of the giant.  Goliath falls to the earth, the shepherd boy goes over to the body of Goliath takes out the giant’s sword and cuts of his’ head, takes it on a spear and brings it back to King Saul and the army.

In my study, I have found that there was one place that was not protected on the giant’s body by the army.  Yes, the spot was exactly where the stone hit Goliath, in the forehead between the eyes.

Forward almost two thousand years, place Jerusalem.  A man claiming to be the Son of God is now on the scene upsetting the religious elite and the empire of Rome.  Three years after his public ministry, he is taken into custody, placed on trial, and then crucified by the bullies of his’ day.

Now arrives another bully that is working for the Roman Empire.  His job, to find all those who are claiming to be the followers of Jesus Christ and put them to death.  The name of the bully, Saul of Tarsus.  The disciples of Christ are on the run hiding from this bully and the Roman army fearing that they are next to have their head placed on the chopping block.

A man named Stephen, the first martyr for Christ, is captured and stood before a mob.  Saul, gives the order for Stephen to be stoned to death.  The riotous mob begins to heave rocks at Stephen until his body can take no more.  Before he breathes his final breath Stephen tells all who are there of what he sees, ‘I see Jesus standing at the father’s right hand’.  The spirit of the man, Stephen, then leaves the body, and dies.

A dusty road heading towards Damascus, this bully Saul, is travelling to the modern city of it’s day.  While on this road Saul experiences something that alters the rest of his life.  He is blinded by a bright light, knocked to the ground and a voice from within the light asks Saul,

Acts 9: (MSG)
4  As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?”
5  He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down.
6  I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next.”

Saul now changes his name to Paul.  The memories that the disciples have of this man are still fresh and they are leery of Paul’s intentions.  They are not quite convinced about the conversion story.

Paul begins his ministry, not only to the Jews, but something that the disciples were not doing, Paul is preaching and converting the gentiles to Christ.

Within the ranks of the disciples and the leadership of the early Christians there is a debate being waged.  Some feel the true leader is Peter, and others believe it is Paul.  Peter and Paul have their differences even to a very public confrontation.

Letters are circulated throughout the early Christians many of slander against Paul.  Finally while writing to the church at Corinth, Paul gives his own defence of his ministry.  The short of the story is Paul recognises the traits of bullying.

He tells the saints at Corinth the battle is not one that is physical, but spiritual.  The charges are of imaginations that have been whipped up against him.  He writes in his letter that the weapons to fight this type of warfare is not carnal, but is spiritual.

There is an adage, ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul’’’.  Could it be true, I believe that it is.  There is one area of every Christian that is hard to protect from the onslaught of the enemy.  It is no the heart, that is guarded by the breastplate, no the only area that we have to guard is the area of our mind.  The place that can bring up evil imaginations, makes us give in to gossip, surrender in fear of those who are different.  Shunning them with racism.

Yes, God gave us the example when he included the story of Goliath and how God directed the stone to the very area that was left unguarded.

Someone was stated, that we as humans only have three seconds to accept or reject a thought.  So, it must be true we are what we see, and hear.  It shapes us, the Psalmist instructed us to meditate on the Word both day and night.  Write it upon the tablets of our heart.

Yes, we have all the tools already to fight against the enemy.  There is no other tools given to the body of Christ.  It’s the Word which is sharper than any two edge sword, it cuts going in, and cuts coming out.

So, lets go forth in the power of God’s word.  You are not in a physical battle, but one that is totally spiritual.  Thoughts of depression, intimidation, suicide are all things that the Word can give us victory over.

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