My older brother. Fond of fast motor bikes, climbing trees and beating the tar out of his younger brother. Although only a year apart, he inherited the family genes for rippling biceps. I did not. So, how does a stick with ears survive the cruelty of premeditative ‘brotherly love?’ I learned to run at an early age, my only defense.
When I didn’t get a jump on him, JoJo’s game was getting me on the ground and putting those knobby blades he called knees into my arms, and grinding away. When I finally said ‘uncle,’ he would let me up, to the sound of laughter from his friends.
A typical bully doesn’t let up, until you give up. You ever have one of those days when the bully of your soul has you on the ground grinding away at your faith muscle? Maybe your stamina didn’t hold out, and he caught you unawares. Perhaps you find yourself steeped in a particular sin that keeps rearing its ugly head, keeps you distracted and downcast. Or maybe it’s a relational conflict that won’t go away. What do you do?
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was twelve, with many ‘JoJo moments’ under my belt. All too many times I didn’t outrun him, and it ended with tears and vows of revenge. But this time was different. As he came toward me, I feinted right, brought up my right hook, and clobbered him. He went down with a grunt and a thud in front of the garage door. Just like that, it all stopped. I walked away, feeling the pulse of pain in my hand, a magnificent feeling.
God wants to fight the battles we face. The enemy of our soul knows we are untouchable, duped once in a while by lies and deception, but that’s all. We fall sometimes to his schemes, because we have forgotten how ingratiated we are with the One who stands behind us in the face of any bully. The Lamb slain looms larger than we sometimes believe.
Satan fans to flame the pining of our second nature, that lower-level fevered and never sated flesh that distorts the vision of Holy God, and puffs up the muscles of our religious duty. In John 10 Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Based on Jesus’ words, here are four truths to take to the bank next time the bully threatens you with half truths, lies spiced up to your liking.
Satan attacks our hearing, to cause perplexity. He doesn’t want us to clearly listen to Jesus, and therefore to simply obey Him.
Satan attacks our knowing, to cause anxiety. He wants us to wonder whether or not Jesus really understands our temptations, is really concerned and near enough to save when the heat turns up. He’s fundamentally attacking our position as children, and therefore we must remember our standing, and that Jesus knows our weakness, and fights right there for our dignity.
Satan attacks our following, to cause animosity. Note that Jesus said, “they” follow me.” If the enemy can separate and divide, build walls of pride and dissonance; then that division weakens the whole. Who do you hate today? That might sound harsh, but there is no middle between hate and love. Degrees of like excuse us, help us find ways to tolerate, instead of embrace those we naturally do not get along with.
Satan attacks our security, to cause religiosity. The promise of eternal life grants family status to all who embrace the cross of Jesus Christ. When we feel our performance has weakened our standing, we tend toward duty, rather than devotion. That path weakens our sense of security, and we forget just how close our Advocate stands when the bully tries to take us down. In his vain attempt, remember Jesus said, “no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Stand up to the bully today. Call his bluff, and keep that right hand of faith ready. A decisive use of that muscle will always clear our sight to see Him, the Lamb slain, looming over us, ever watchful, ever vigilant ever proud.