“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:10

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”  Matthew 5:9

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12

There is a debate raging in our current age that I imagine may not be a new debate.  Certainly the war is not new about which the debate is being contested.  Is there are war on Christianity?  Is there a war on Christmas?  Most certainly there is and again, it is nothing new.

In fact Christ warned His disciples from the beginning that they would be harassed, imprisoned, beaten and yes killed just for preaching the Gospel of Christ.  Not only the disciples would be treated thusly but also many who followed them.  And of course, Christ is never wrong.  Starting with the Jewish leaders, then Romans, Turks, down through the millenniom, Christians have had, literal and figurative, physical, mental and especially spiritual war waged against them.  Sadly, the war has also been a civil war.  With Christians fighting Christians for power, influence, and out of greed.  So what are we to make of this longstanding conflict and how to wage it?

In the Gospel of Matthew, in a very short order Jesus has been baptized by John, tempted by Satan and is now preaching one of His first major lessons to the world; the oft referenced Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus is laying out the basic premise of His Ministry and what Our Heavenly Father wants us to know about those who will inherit eternal life by entering into His Kingdom.  Jesus speaks long and powerfully about the attitudes, precepts, intentions and actions we are to have, on this earth, as we follow Him. Right there in the beginning He tells them then, as He is telling us today, we are blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness sake.  Imagine that.  It is a fairly radical idea to think of being blessed by having a war waged against you.  Yet that is exactly what Jesus is saying.  Secondly, are we to be destroyers, conquerors, warriors; how does Jesus describe the wagers of this world?  Peacemakers; that’s who the sons of God are; the peacemakers.

I think it is also vital at this juncture to point out what we are not to do.  Because it is a natural tendency,because we are creations of flesh and spirit, made in the image of God, but unlike Christ, not God Himself, that we see things from a perspective of the flesh.  Therefore, if we feel that we are being attacked by those of the flesh, we should retaliate and make war against those of the flesh.  However, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit warns us not to think of this war as physical, flesh based war.  If we do that we are most probably going to create havoc and destruction, even to ourselves.  This war is first and foremost a spiritual war.  A war waged by Satan and his powers of darkness.  Thus it is important that we do not lash out and try to destroy our fellow creations of God, even if they are acting in an evil manner.  Instead, we are to remember Christ and His example.  As He was battered, beaten and nailed to a tree; He forgave those very same people who were tormenting and killing Him.  If we are to be sons of God; we need to be able to do the same.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, again the war against Christians has been going on since Christ came to this earth.  In some places today, the war manifests itself in real physical danger to Christians.  More often what we are seeing in the West and especially the United States is a more insidious but no less effective attack.  It disguises itself in many forms; political correctness, inclusiveness, wrongly denying certain displays or actions under a flawed constitutional interpretation; but at its heart they are all the same.  To deny that God exists or at the very least to relegate Him to a place of irrelevance.  For example I heard a story today of a woman who was saved from freezing to death when she fell through some ice trying to save her dogs who had also fallen through.  A man who was never late, happened to be running late this day, saw the woman, called police who rescued her and her dogs.  So here’s what the commentators stated.  First they did state it was a “miracle”.  They stated that it was miraculous that the man happened to be running late and saw the woman.  Now here’s where the war comes in; while using the word miraculous, one went on to say that the universe had conspired to have the man run late and find the woman.  The Universe!!!!  No need nor desire to see God in it at all.  The battle is joined.

How are we to fight this war?  Paul tells us; with the full spiritual armor of God; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with readiness of the Gospel of Christ and having the shield of faith.  This is the spiritual armor we are to use to wage this war successfully.  Even if we were to see some of our fellow creations as the enemy, remember Christ commanded us to love our enemies.  Especially this Christmas season as nothing the world can do can stop us from celebrating Christ, do not lash out in frustration or hatred against a world surrounded and existing in darkness.  Let us be mirrors.  Let us be mirrors having love and shining His love out as bright or brighter than that first star so long ago.

Finally, do understand this.  The war is already won.  Through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice we are also victors through His grace.  Let us then live victoriously, not in gloating but in mercy and grace, knowing that is how we are able also to be counted as the victors.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we proclaim humbly in ourselves, but with shouts of glory to You, that we are victors, through You, in the war that is waged against Your Son.  Help us to see the battles of this war as spiritual battles versus just fleshly battles.  Forgive us in our ignorance and frustration, when we lash out against our fellow creation instead of reacting in love, forgiveness and mercy; as You would have us do.  We thank You that You have supplied us with Your full armor that we might rise to defeat the spiritual army of the enemy.  In these things and so much more we praise Your Most Holy Name.  We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

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