James 4:1-3 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” NIV
We once had a little dog who always wanted to be boss of the pack, although this was not her rightful place. Our lead dog was a sweet tempered and fair boss who never displayed aggressive or nasty behaviour toward any of our other dogs, and yet in the end the little dog who wanted to be boss got her desire. She got it by attacking the lead dog when she was old and frail. Though the injuries she inflicted were not life threatening in themselves, the trauma of the attack caused the older dog to die.
Within packs of animals it is nature’s way that as the lead animal becomes frail that the next strongest one battles for control. As hard as it is to accept when it happens between two pets, the aggressor is only doing what comes naturally to it.
People also have a natural man within them and it is this natural man that causes fights and quarrels among us bringing everything from hurt feelings to world wars and atrocities that afflict the innocent through no fault of their own. Such fights and quarrels do not only happen among non-Christian people either, for Christians can be just as guilty of such natural behaviour as the non-Christian. Consider the Crusades and other modern day groups who claim to be Christian and yet seek to justify acts of unkindness, shunning, rejection and even violence towards others who have different opinions or lifestyles from the ones which they perceive as godly.
And yet amidst it all there is an answer. The answer is two-fold. The first part of the solution is that the beginning of the healing of the nations will only come as people’s hearts are soften and open to the gospel of Jesus Christ and His salvation, a salvation of love and goodness which has the power to transform and fill each person with all the fullness of God. And people can only come to salvation as Christians are willing to take the gospel message to them through loving words and deeds.
The second part of the answer comes after a person has accepted Christ’s salvation. It is discovered when Christians choose to never rest in their quest to wholeheartedly, day in and day out, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. None of us is yet made perfect in the Lord, our natural man within still battles for control. We must therefore constantly, as the apostle Paul wrote, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, to press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13b-14). For it is only as we learn to strain, exercise to greatest possible or beyond legitimate extent, press to extremes, to continue to grow in Christ through the power of his Spirit in our inner most being, that our natural man within will be overcome with all the fullness of God Himself and the Church will become more and more what She is meant to be, a constant light of godly love and a healing presence amidst the world.
Prayer: Father God we pray that out of your glorious riches you will strengthen us with power through your Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. And we pray that being rooted and established in love, that we may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen. (Taken from Ephesians 3:16-19)
Lynne Phipps Atlin, B.C.