Enemies

enemy-tc-1

I’m not sure how to break this to you, but…

You have enemies.

I know it sounds strange, but it’s true.

Do you know how I know it’s true?

Because that’s what the Psalms of the Bible claim.

This summer, I’ve been preaching through the different types of psalms that comprise the Bible’s collection in the book of Psalms.  And one of the things that stands out to me as I’ve been reading through Psalms is how often the psalms talk about enemies.

According to the various authors of the psalms, the men and women of God are not only opposed by others from time to time, but the people of God regularly encounter those who wish to do them harm, in one way or another, because these other people passionately and aggressively stand against the purposes of God.

This is why David says, in Psalm 22:16-18: “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.  All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”

Of course, Jesus, on the cross, applied that imagery to his own situation when he invoked Psalm 22 by crying out the first verse of that text: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Jesus was also surrounded by enemies who pierced his hands and feet, who stared at him and gloated over him, and who cast lots for his garments.  Even though he was dying for them, these enemies still opposed him.

And Jesus told his followers: “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).

You have enemies.

What’s interesting is that the psalms say that these enemies can also come from among God’s people.  It’s not always outsiders who will mistreat you.  Just as there are people in this world who oppose Christ’s mission in favor of their own political agenda, greed, pride, and self-advancement, there are those within Christ’s church who do the same for the same reasons.  There are those whose own spiritual immaturity causes them to gossip against, slander, and reject their own brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sad, but true.

The psalms make us aware that we will encounter people – in the world and in the church – who will treat us as enemies.

So, what do we do?

David’s response, in Psalm 22, was to find refuge in the Lord, to praise the Lord in the assembly, to proclaim the Lord’s righteousness, and to fulfill the vow he had made to the Lord.

In other words, David refused to let his enemies set the agenda for his life.  He was the Lord’s servant and he would not trade that identity for another.

And that’s what we should do, as well.

We belong to the Lord – for better or worse.  And we know that the Lord is faithful; thus, we should continue to faithfully follow him, knowing that he will redeem our suffering and reward our steadfast devotion.

Yes, we have enemies, simply because we stand with Christ.  But remember what Christ said: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

You have enemies.

But your Lord is greater than your enemies.

Praise the Lord!

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