7 War broke out in heaven.
It’s an unsettling image. We hear the word heaven and imagine a realm of peace and light, untroubled by sorrow. We think of longed for reunions with lost love ones and answers to life’s troubling questions. We anticipate a realm where the aches and pains of age and disease are left behind. We don’t want another war zone.
On the other hand, there is something strangely comforting in the notion that the struggles and terrors of earth are shared by the divine realm. The clash of armies, the rage of tyrants, the unfathomable cruelty of some, the corruption of wealth, the perversion of sexuality, the wasting of human life by disease – these are not just matters of public policy, policing and medicine. They are spiritual battles, battles of forces of life and death, kindness and cruelty, good and evil.
The marches and fire hoses were not just a struggle for political rights; they were spiritual battles for our humanity. The political chaos of Washington is not just party politics and personal ambitions and animosities, but a spiritual conflict about wealth and power and the good of our neighbor.
God is not above the fray. God is involved in the struggle. God partakes in the battle. God is fighting for his world.
This is not to endorse the crusading mentality equating my position with God’s will. Rather it is a recognition of the importance of the spiritual dimensions of life and an assurance that there are powers at work in the world to combat evil.
God is fighting for his world, yet much of this struggle is quite hidden from us. Who would have thought that one more crucifixion on the hill outside Jerusalem would be the decisive victory for the forces for life? Who would have thought that moment of evil’s triumph would be its eternal defeat? In the chaos of battle, who can tell which is the moment on which the war turns? And who is to say that what seems like defeat may not bear the seeds of triumph?
And if there is a spiritual war going on, if a struggle is underway for truth and compassion and justice and life, then my every choice to speak truth, do compassion, act justly, and give life matters. I may have little influence over Syria or Washington, but my thoughts, words and deeds are still part of the battle.
And in this battle we are not alone.