Last weekend I went to see the new movie, "Catching Fire," with a few of my favorite people. Two years ago, a bunch of us read the "Hunger Games" trilogy together, and I still think it's one of the best recently written pieces of literature, at least that I have experienced. That will probably surprise some of you who know me and know my affinity for old-fashioned fantasy and epic classics. But I love the writing style and perspective of the narration, and how each chapter is a cliff-hanger, and how the plot thickens, and how it's about a girl who finds herself as being significant in something much bigger than herself.
I was noticing in the movies how there are a few themes that are emphasized... one is about the power of hope, another is about sacrificing for the sake of those they love. But one that really stuck with me was one that Haymitch and Finnick said at different times: "Remember who the true enemy is." The people chosen for the games, the "tributes," are pitted against each other, and the attention of the whole country is put on watching these people fight to the death, when really the enemy is the leadership in the capitol that is orchestrating all the violence and fear. The tributes have to remind each other that they are not the enemy, and that their energy would be better spent fighting the enemy together rather than fighting each other.
And I can't help but think this is a good truth to apply to the Church. Too often I see Christians fighting each other, whether it's within a ministry or one church body or across denominations. And I think that is a waste of time and energy. The true enemy is Satan, and he would love nothing more than to distract us into tearing each other apart... he is safe and sound as long as our arrows are pointed at each other. Why do we fall for that trick?? So if you have anger or bitterness or any issue with a brother or sister in Christ, here is the truth: it is destroying you, it is killing them, and it is strangling the ministry. And I'd just like to say to you: GET OVER IT. Realize that lies and conflicts that divide us are the work of Satan and the sin in our own hearts that produces selfishness and pride - and let that knowledge increase our fervent love and defense and protection of each other, and fiercely turn our attacks on the true source that has been causing the same problems since the Garden of Eden. Satan has absolutely no authority in the Church, so do not allow him to have any power or claim there.
We are human; we make mistakes, we sin, we hurt each other, and we come from different pasts that shape our values and approaches differently. But the thing that binds us together is that we have been saved and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. We worship the same God, and we are all under his mercy. He has given us the same commands and mission and promises. And anyway, we're gonna spend eternity together, so we may as well start learning to get along now! When we focus on the truth of the gospel and we abide in the Vine, we grow and bear fruit - individually and corporately, which is a much better thing that cutting each other down and separating.
So let's remember who the true enemy is, and who the true King is, and who our family is. Let's remember that Jesus saved us and the Holy Spirit brought us together to bring glory and praise to God.