When I was a teenager, I played drums with my youth group worship team.
There were about seven of us in the team, and if you put seven teenagers together you know there will be drama at some point.
One of the last times I play with the group was for a big event our youth group was hosting. We had the opportunity to lead an entire room of teenagers like us to worship God through music.
But we missed it because we became focused on the wrong thing.
At one point during rehearsal we all began arguing over something that really would not have mattered the next week. I left the room upset and determined to still do things my way because I was certain that my real fight was against the other girls in my youth group who had hurt me. Our team was not functioning very well as a team, I felt very isolated, and I blamed them and saw them as the enemy. I’m sure they felt the same way about me.
And that was where we missed it.
We had the opportunity to glorify God as a team. We had the opportunity to lead others through worshipping Him in music. But when we got up on that stage the only thing that came across was our anger and frustration with each other and the focus turned to us and not Christ.
As a teenager, loneliness or isolation were really difficult feelings for me. I processed them by fighting against loneliness and seeing whoever was causing my hurt as my enemy.
If we’re honest, we still do this same thing as a church.
As a church, we are the body of Christ and we are family through Him—with or without a building.
However, a lot of times we forget that loneliness is not our real enemy. And we begin to fight against each other or anyone who makes us feel isolated or lonely, because we surely think that they are the problem.
I recently began watching Marvel movies and the first Avengers movie really got me thinking about this concept more.
The Avengers—as a team—were defending New York City against the enemy threatening the city. However, as they began interviewing the enemy or talking to him, he slowly started to get them to not trust each other and they began to fight each other. It was almost too late by the time they realized that the enemy’s plan all along was to get them to turn on each other, because when they didn’t function as a team, the enemy was able to attack them even more.
This is so true for us.
In Ephesians 6:10-13 it says, “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
Our enemy is not each other. Our enemy is not loneliness or isolation or any of the other hurtful feelings we experience. Our enemy is not the people who cause those feelings.
This verse reminds us that we are not fighting against a physical battle, but a spiritual one. It’s an unseen battle and that makes it difficult for us to understand sometimes because we are programmed to understand what we can see. Which is why it makes it so much easier when we feel hurt by people or lonely to begin fighting against what is right in front of us.
But when we do that, we break up our team. And we break down the influence we could have had for God because we began fighting the wrong battles.
I’ve met and talked with people before who have walked away from God or His church and what I’ve heard the most is that Christians have hurt them. And they got caught up in feeling lonely and isolated from these people, that they blamed them, saw them as the enemy, and then fought against them. I’ve been guilty of that same thing. And I’m sure you have to. When someone says or does something we don’t like we get angry and fight against them by telling other people in the church about what they did to make us upset.
Right now, we’re living in a time that would make it really easy for us to see loneliness or isolation as our enemy. We could get hurt because maybe someone did call or check up on us like we thought they might. Or maybe someone said something in frustration that upset us. And it can be easy to retreat into the feelings of loneliness and isolation and fight against each other.
But do you know what would happen?
The same thing that happened to my youth group worship team, and the same thing that happened to the Avengers team in the movie.
We would fight against each other and miss out on the real battle.
John 15:12 reminds us, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”
As humans we’re going to hurt each other, make each other feel lonely or isolated sometimes (even after social distancing is in the past), and do things that upset one another. But the next time that happens, let’s remember that our fight is not against each other or even what we’re feeling. Our fight is against something much bigger. And only when we’re united as a team—as the church of Christ—can we bring glory and honor to Him and point other people to His love, through our love for each other, even when we make mistakes.
This week think about each other. How can we grow closer as a church, even when we’re not physically together? How can we fight battles against the enemy together as one?
Make a phone call this week and check in on someone who may be feeling lonely and remind them that we’re still together. Love one another as Jesus loved us.
Real spiritual battles are needing to be fought. Let’s fight them together as one.