By Bret Bernhardt
As followers of Jesus working on Capitol Hill, how are we to view the tumultuous events that have unfolded before us across the country?
This is an important question because we are seeking to integrate our faith into our daily practice. It helps shape our views about public policy but also our personal conduct. Now is the time for us to engage in the hard conversations because we are called to influence and usher in God’s Kingdom here on earth.
With this in mind we need to understand the nature of the battle. By the battle I mean the way in which we perceive and respond to the world around us. The recent events we have been witnessing — the virus, racial unrest, and threats of anarchy — are part of this battle.
These events are not a one-off phenomenon but have at their core the fallen nature of mankind. For example, the virus and the steps to mitigate it have precipitated actions and reactions that have been at work within our minds and spirit for quite some time.
In fact, you could say since the beginning of God’s redemptive story of mankind culminating in the renewal of this world into his eternal kingdom.
“These events are not a one-off phenomenon but have at their core the fallen nature of mankind.”
When we observe these events — rising virus infections, the killing of George Floyd, and unchecked random violence — they can move us to a place of anger and hostility. Left to its own, this can take us opposite of where we need to be in the work of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Make no mistake, there is good and evil happening. Our task is seeking the mind of Christ in not only discerning between good and evil but to resolve the conflict within us. Doing so will empower us to influence the world around us.
As we look at the world through Gods eyes, we see the true nature of the conflict. Paul understood this when he wrote Ephesians 6:12:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
This well-known verse often sits there without activation until we ask God to make it effective in our lives. Once we do, we set aside the inflated concern for ourselves, which produces fear, and begin to see the true nature of the battle in which we are engaged.
“When we are tempted to lash out motivated by our hurt, hate, and anger, we are guaranteed defeat rather than success.”
In any battle, you must choose the right weapons. In this case, the weapons used against spirits and principalities are very different from those used elsewhere. And, using earthly weapons will not lead to victory but defeat.
These spiritual weapons are found in Ephesians 6:13-17. This means, in practical terms, when we are tempted to lash out motivated by our hurt, hate, and anger, we are guaranteed defeat rather than success. The source of these emotions is not security but fear.
The real enemy, the one behind the people and events we may see as the enemy, will only be defeated by spiritual warfare. When faced with a deeply challenging episode in my Senate career, a friend gave me a verse of which we are also familiar — 2 Timothy 1:7:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Until recently, I focused on the spirit of power and of love and considered a sound mind as sort of an afterthought , not really understanding what it meant. But, as I have better understood the implications of fearfulness, I have found that it leads to faulty thinking and reasoning.
When I allow fear to have its way, I think and act irrationally and outside of God’s will. That’s because I’m reacting to what I see in the flesh rather than in the spirit.
As you work, you must do so with sound reasoning. This can only come by allowing the spirit of God to operate unhindered within you. Once we put on our “God goggles,” we can confidently enter the field of battle knowing the nature of the enemy and how to defeat him.
Bret Bernhardt served on the Hill as chief of staff to senators Don Nickles of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina. He is now a member of the board of directors of Faith & Law and the Conservative Partnership Institute.