A Common Enemy

Ephesians 6:12 – For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.  NRSV

Perhaps the most pernicious delusion to afflict humanity since before the existence of recorded history is the notion that other human beings are our enemies.  It is possible that this delusion has brought more suffering to the earth and its inhabitants than any other deception.  Jesus’ pronouncement that we should love our enemies, do good to them that hate us, and pray for those that despitefully use us and persecute us gets to the heart of the truth that we truly do not wrestle against those that we can see and accents the imperative to forgive those that wrong us, for in forgiving those that wrong us we understand that they themselves have been victimized even as they have victimized us.

But I believe that though we do not have any true human enemies, we as a fledging and nascent species of creature do in fact have an enemy.  Christians call this enemy satan, the devil, or legion.  Some Buddhists refer to this enemy as “the demonic” others call it something internal like “the self” or “the ego.”  Some Muslims refer to this enemy as “Jinns” or “Evil Angels.” Some Hindus refer to this enemy as “wicked spirits”.  Some Native Americans call this enemy “trickster” and some of the New Age persuasion might even call this enemy “Evil Aliens.”

In truth, this enemy is little more than an imagination.  But this imagination, once it has an opening into the human consciousness, sometimes has devastating effects.  One of the reasons why I am proud to call myself Christian is that I believe that Christians outwardly and boldly renounce this “enemy” and declare themselves its sworn adversary.  Unfortunately, the cruel and sad irony, is that we as Christians in renouncing this “thing” have in many cases been the most victimized by its deceptions and as a consequence have created “institutions” marred by co-dependence, doubt, distrust, and the paranoid oppression of the very people with whom we have sworn ourselves in vigilant solidarity.

In my experience, I have fellowshipped with some who are so obsessed with fighting “the evil one” that we see him everywhere and think that she is everyone and everything that does not affirm our ideological convictions.  I have fellowshipped with others who think that any notion of a “common enemy” to humanity is a function of superstition, ignorance, or insanity.  At this point, I am thoroughly convinced that this enemy does in fact exist and truly does endeavor to mar the human experience with illness, war, oppression, and pain.  But I am not sure of how to best fight this enemy.  I admire anyone who endeavors to resist the devil, but I have seen this tendency to resist the devil become something as bad if not worse than the devil itself time and time again.

Perhaps one of the best weapons to nullify the effects of this persistent malady who Jesus condemned on the cross, is the method of acknowledgment.  Some say that the devil is a dark angel who accuses the brethren day and night.  While I am not 100% sure of any mythology concerning what we “wrestle against” I do wholeheartedly agree that “accusation” and a maligning of the beauty of every human soul is part of this “thing’s” agenda.  And so perhaps what some call “Namaste” as in the acknowledgement of the divinity in ourselves and in all those who we encounter might be one of the most effective weapons that we possess.  While I definitely believe in casting out demons and have seen its effectiveness, I believe that as great a “tool of warfare” as it is that somehow admiration might be even more effective.  Imagine how the enemy would quake if every time I as a Christian encountered a Muslim of profound integrity, I saw the beauty of the 5 pillars in that person’s walk; or if every time a Hindu saw my stalwart faith in Jesus and my commitment to love as he loved, they glorified Vishnu where they stood; or if every time I encountered a Bahai who exhibited great humility and unconditional love I praised Jehova Nissi for blessing me to encounter this saint.

I believe that Jesus is Lord and so I do hope that all will eventually acknowledge this reality, but what I hope for more is that we as a humanity experience the solidarity of “Namaste” for this glorifies my Savior I believe as much as anything else.  So for what it’s worth, “NAMASTE!” and may God be with you.