Monday, September 27, 2010

Battle Against Evil

“For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” Ephesians 6: 12

I’ve noticed that if you are going to live an authentic Catholic Christian lifestyle, if you are going to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, then you are going to be persecuted. And since Jesus was persecuted, why should we expect anything different? Of course, it’s not that we are going out of our way to try to be persecuted, because that would be stupid. But when someone is living according to Christ in a culture that is living predominantly opposed to Christ, there are going be consequences.

And the reality is that Satan (the ruler of our world) is not going to let things get comfortable for us nor let us off easy. The problem is that much of this persecution comes from people we know. Family members, co-workers, people from school. For some reason people that know us (or think they know us), find it easy to question our beliefs, challenge us, criticize us or make fun of us. And many times we get “ganged-up” on as well. We are then tempted to forgo our discipleship for popularity. Let’s face it, it is much easier to go along with everyone else and have everyone like us, then to go against the flow and be persecuted.

But I think the greatest temptation when we are persecuted is not whether to be popular or not. It is the temptation to treat the people who are persecuting us as if they are the enemy. We are tempted to think ill of them, to respond to them in our words without love and to even do sinful things towards them like gossip about them or begin to hate them for what they are doing to us. Is this how Jesus responded when He was persecuted? No!

We have to recognize that the people who may be making fun of us or hurting us are just as broken as we are. And most importantly, they are loved by Jesus just as much as we are. This is so hard to do when our feelings have been hurt, but humility helps to see others as Jesus sees them and to ultimately desire good for them. We are certainly in a battle and the consequences are eternal life or eternal death. But the enemy is not other people, it is Satan. Other people are simply caught in the battle like we are, without being aware. Our duty is to love them into a relationship with Christ, perhaps even through our own sufferings, so that they can one day stand victorious as well in the heavenly Kingdom.

Dear Jesus, help me to love others as You do, especially anyone who has hurt me or made fun of me for being Your follower. Give me the grace to not only bear the persecution with patience, but to desire the greatest good for that person, so that one day they may be in heaven with You forever. Amen.

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