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Check the Bushes!

November 3, 2020

When I was kid, some of the neighbors would play “War” with my older brothers and me. It was basically “Hide and Seek.” We would hide and sneak around and then “shoot” the other guys with our imaginary weapons. The goal was to be the last man standing.

After playing the game a few times, I noticed a trend. Every game seemed to end the same way. All of the guys would end up arguing over who shot whom first. It was an important part of the game, because if David shot Richard first, then Richard could not have shot the neighbor kid. You can imagine how long (and how heated) those discussions might get.

Once I realized that they always argued at the end of the game, my little 6 year old brain went to work. Since I was the youngest, I was often overlooked which would work to my advantage this time. I found the perfect hiding place in the bushes. Then I just waited. Sure enough, after everyone had “shot” at everyone else, they began their normal routine of arguing and claiming victory. They forgot all about the little kid in the bushes. Once they were actively involved in the finger pointing and chest pounding, I jumped from my hiding place with my trusty sub-machine gun and wiped them all out.

Did that really happen? I honestly think so. However, I would have been pretty young and I only have a foggy memory of the event. It is possible that I’m actually remembering a dream or a story from my early childhood. Regardless of the veracity of my story, it has served me well through the years as a reminder to not let my guard down and get distracted by squabbles and quarrels.

We have an enemy who often uses a similar strategy to the one I used as a kid. He will cleverly hide himself so we don’t think about him. Then he will turn us against each other and watch with glee as we call each other names, malign one another, belittle and accuse one another. I imagine he has to hold back his own giggles as he lurks between the leaves trying not to laugh out loud at our vicious attacks on one another. Brothers and sisters and neighbors and friends all yelling and screaming and trying to prove they are “right” must please him beyond measure. When we puff out our chests and declare to others that they are the losers, he just stands by in the bushes enjoying the fruit of his labor.

And then, when our attention is on one another and we are not even thinking about the dangers around us, he attacks. We are easy prey because we have not been paying attention. Peter warned us about that. 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us to, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (NIV) Notice who our enemy is. Our enemy is not the person who looks, votes, talks, or thinks differently than we do. We have a common enemy, and one of his primary objectives is to get us fighting one another so we forget about him. If he can get us focused on beating each other, we will forget to check the bushes. When we have worn each other out and we are weakened by our own anger and pride, he is ready to pounce. It is then that friendships end, families are torn apart, churches are split, and we all suffer.

Beloved, we don’t have to agree on everything. As a matter of fact, we will never agree on everything. But we surely can’t turn on each other and lower our common defenses to give the enemy entrance into our lives and relationships. Let’s take care of one another, love one another, and serve one another. Let’s have each other’s backs instead of being at each other’s throats. And as we face the world together, let’s stay strong and not make the enemy’s job any easier!

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  1. Mike Nevins permalink

    Amen! . My pastor, in his sermon this last Sunday, encouraged us to stay away from social media following the election. He asked ” when is the last time you won an argument on social media — Never…”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Mike! I think your pastor gave you some pretty good advice.


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