by Jennifer Slattery
Do thoughts of the holidays fill you with joyful anticipation, anxiety, or both? We probably all have that one family member who seems adept at pricking at our insecurities, challenging our peace, and poking at our emotional bruises. It makes the holidays challenging every year.
Years ago, someone I interacted with seemed angered by me and everything for which I stood, only this individual never told me this directly. Instead, after each encounter, she’d flood social media with posts regarding the hypocrisy or “hatred” displayed by Christ-followers–whether or not we’d talked religion or discussed personal beliefs. Feeling as if this person was passive-aggressively attacking me, I shared my hurt with a mentor, who replied, “She’s not fighting with you. She’s wrestling with God.”
Her words reminded me of Ephesians, where it states, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:12-13 KJV).
Every action and reaction has a spiritual root. We, and all we encounter, are either living yielded to Christ or in opposition to Him. It’s about living His love and grace or giving in to self-obsession.
Galatians show both possibilities: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Galatians 5:19-26 KJV).
When I am driven by “the flesh” rather than God’s Spirit, I’m not to sink into condemnation. Instead, He wants to reveal places in my soul where His love and grace haven’t reached, so that He can heal every wound, expel every lie, and illuminate every lurking shadow with His glorious light.
A light that will push back the darkness, within me and also around me.
Whenever a Christ-follower enters a room, she carries with her the light of Christ. She changes the dynamics, on a supernaturally spiritual level, whether she speaks or remains silent. She becomes a strategic weapon against the evil seeking to devour her, when she remains in step with His Spirit.
Every encounter stems from the same over-arching battle. Scripture makes it clear, we have an enemy whose desire is to tarnish and destroy. But Christ is calling us to life. To hope. To healing, freedom, and eternal impact.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published novelist, speaker, ministry leader, and one of the hosts of the Faith Over Fear Podcast and the Your Daily Bible Verse podcast. Visit her at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com to learn more about her.
Join the conversation: As you anticipate Christmas, is it with joy or angst? How is God speaking to you in regard to this? Share your thoughts, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!