“We are not at war with flesh and blood, but we are at war for flesh and blood.”
My friend Laura wrote this from Thailand where she and her team are in the thick of rescuing children from sexual slavery. There is so much power and truth in this little sentence, and it continues to haunt me.
Sometimes I forget that we are not at war WITH flesh and blood. The pimps, the complicit police, the structures that deny victims justice… Sometimes I want to do battle with them, shrieking and clawing until people listen and things start to change. My heart hardens against sexual predators and lawmakers who prioritize politics over people, and then I know I have lost my way. While there must still be consequences for injustice and abuse, the war is not against people. They are like me: broken and victims themselves of abuse, fear, pride, and sin. They are not the enemy.
Sometimes I forget that we are at war FOR flesh and blood. People get minimized into issues, and ethics are violated for the sake of the cause. Sometimes I can’t see the one in the thousands and thousands. I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem and become paralyzed to do anything at all. But when I remember that this war is for real people, the one matters and the small way I can contribute is significant.
What is beginning to be clear to me is that this is how Jesus approaches us too. He is not war with us. No matter how evil we act or how rebelliously we remain in our sin, his wrath isn’t pointed at us. His wrath is directed at the evil one bent on destroying us from within and without. Likewise, Christ is at war for us. He does not rest as he seeks to rescue individual people from despair and hopelessness. He never loses sight of the one in the crowd of humanity, and he stoops to reveal himself in smallest ways so that we will each know him intimately and personally.
To become like Jesus means seeing the world through his eyes. My natural inclination is to war against individuals for a cause. Jesus is teaching me to war against evil for the sake of individual people. I still find myself more often stumbling than walking upright, but at least I am learning to see the goal.