Regardless of the outcome of today’s billion-dollar card, the Apostle Paul reminds us “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.”
There are many ways of understanding and applying this wisdom to our modern situations. At base, though, I think Paul wants us to remember that most of the struggles we find ourselves in, even struggles with other people, are the manifestations of systems and circumstances set in-motion through generations, through broken social patterns that promote injustice, intolerance, and inequality.
Paul is asking us to see our supposed enemies the way Jesus does. It’s Paul, after all, who famously persecuted the early church before his blinding experience on the road to Damascus. And it’s Jesus, after all, who asked every one of us to love our enemies as ourselves and pray for those who persecute us.
Our enemies aren’t really our enemies. The people with whom we seem to contend are, just like us, products of many broken systems setting us on paths toward personal conflict and even international war. The “rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world” are the lies teaching us to look out only for ourselves, to serve our own interests at any cost, and to take what we can while we can, regardless of the harm inflicted on others, especially if those others look, think, or speak differently than we do.
Don’t fall for the lie. We have more in common than we like to admit. And our struggle is not with each other, but with any system running counter to the economy of the Kingdom of God, a kingdom, as the Taize chant teaches, of “justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” A kingdom wherein all is provided, where all have enough because none horde too much, where nothing is wasted and none are in want. Amen.
– Pastor Chris
(resources: Ephesians, “The Kingdom of God,” Taize chant, “Not Scared Here” by Tim Coons)