Every good guy has a bad guy. The super hero always has an adversary. And if you notice, the adversary is always sneaky…always has a plan. Of course, in the good stories, the good guy wins and the bad guy goes to jail (or worse)…but even in the best stories, people are hurt along the way. The bad guy does as much damage to the “little people” as possible. It’s part of his plan because that’s who the good guy is fighting for and that’s what will hurt the good guy at his core. The bad guy knows it, and the bad guy uses that knowledge. Obviously he’s not blatant about it. He doesn’t send a note to Mr. Super Hero saying, “I’m going to attack these people at this location on this day by doing this thing.” No. He just does it. And in sneakier ways than the little people, the average Joe’s, expect. And that’s part of what makes him so evil. His schemes.
I wish people could see that. I wish every average Joe could see that in this real life we have a very real adversary that is sneaky just like in the movies. He may not wear a cape. He may not fly and shoot lasers from his eyes, but he’s working just the same. And his favorite casualty is the little guy. He takes his greatest victory is distracting, in confusing, in dividing. He usually does it quietly, slowly, sneakily. One day at a time. One conversation. One argument. One situation at a time. And after enough days that one annoying thing has turned into many annoying things and that one small issue has turned into one big issue, but because it’s come on so slowly, we little people don’t always recognize it for what it is, or who is doing it. So we turn on each other. Or we turn on The Good Guy. You know, the One who fights our adversary…for us.
Sometimes the bad guy’s way of winning is to convince us that The Good Guy isn’t really that good, that His intentions really aren’t that pure, that His love really isn’t that extravagant…or that it’s at least not for us. Because if it were, wouldn’t He have fixed that problem? Wouldn’t He have healed that body? Wouldn’t He have saved that marriage? Wouldn’t He have prevented that tragedy? But He didn’t. So we should stop supporting The Good Guy.
Sound familiar? It should. Because our enemy does this everyday. And do you know who I have realized he uses the most often to confuse and distract and divide? The church. And the church people. The politically religious. Ouch. Because I just attacked my very own people, the global community that I am a part of. And do you know how I know this? Because I’ve had an inside view of the politically religious. I have walked with them and talked with them and (tried my best) to love them (and sometimes failed miserably, I’m embarrassed to say). But this enemy, this bad guy, works his sneaky work on these people most persistently. Why? Because they have the most potential to gain support for The Good Guy, thus giving them equal potential to deter support for Him. So his sneaky way is to make them judgmental and harsh and opinionated. His sneaky way is to get them to spout their thoughts as Gospel instead of spouting the Gospel itself. His way is to get them to love tradition and religion instead of loving the messy people love was created for.
I know this because of all the people I talk to. I know this because of all of the friends that won’t step foot inside a church building. They have lived years and decades watching messy religious politics and they want no part. The outside world has enough political mess, why purposely tack on more? And who can blame them? That’s what their enemy wants them to believe. That’s what he reminds them of day in and day out. He reminds them of that one church lady who said that one nasty thing to them when they were 12. He reminds them of that one church leader who failed when they needed a mentor the most. He reminds them of that one time they felt so unwelcome and alone. And he slowly and sneakily makes them think that that is a true representation of The Good Guy, of the Super Hero, even though it’s a lie at its darkest.
And so they base their entire life, their entire spiritual existence, on misperceptions and mistruths. He has sneakily convinced the adults that the global church community as a whole can be seen in the snapshot of the church person who hurt them 15 years ago or 6 months ago or last week. And here’s what’s fascinating about the enemy’s sneaky ways: because he has convinced them to avoid the One who loves them the most and fights for them the hardest, he has inadvertently convinced them not to teach their children about Him either. He is actively, albeit quietly, affecting the entire next generation who will never step foot inside of a church building by the time they reach adulthood, never given the chance to choose The Good Guy even if they wanted to, not because He’s bad, but because they will have never been introduced to Him. They won’t even be offered the chance to join the community because the bad guy is sneaky that way. He has placed too many other opportunities and commitments in their way.
I know these things not because I’m better than the average Joes, not because I do all the right things for my children and my family, but because I’ve lived through the slow day to day picking away at my confidence in my Super Hero. I have walked week in and week out letting the politically religious shape my view of Him instead of letting it shape my view of them and the adversary that was blinding them to truth. I realized after the final stab went into my back that although I should have simply stood up to my enemy, I actually lost faith in people and in my Savior, which goes to show where my faith was lying in the first place, as somehow it was one in the same. I am not proud of this, but I am honest about it.
Reality is that I should have been able to step back and see the adversary, to see his slow, sneaky schemes, the way he worked so quietly, so specifically, to make me lose confidence in the One who used to hold all of my confidence. Instead I turned my back. I played right into his plan. I lost faith in Jesus, not because of anything He had done, but because of everything my adversary had done. I stopped supporting the Good Guy. I was a casualty of war.
For a time.
I am on my way back.
I am learning that there will always be the politically religious. Always. And the enemy will always use them because they are available. But I cannot base my spiritual experience on them, on what they say, on what they do. Then my faith lies more in them than it does in Him. And I give the enemy a fantastic weapon against me. I will suffer for it. My children will suffer for it. Generations will suffer for it.
And that is his plan And we can’t let that happen.
I am more focused now. Focused on Him and those He wants me to love, the messy ones, the hurting ones, the rejected ones. Those are the ones I understand anyway. I never want to understand the politically religious ones. Love them? Sure. Imitate them? No thanks. Hope for change? Of course. Base my beliefs and actions around what they say and how they act? Never.
Be the change I hope to see in the church? Always.