Friday, January 20, 2012

Two Battles

I've been trying to think of how to share what we've been doing this week here in Thailand (aside from trying not to get sunburned, reading Kindles by the pool, and searching in vain for Coke Zero). We're at a conference called re-LEAF (LEAF being Leadership Evaluation and Formation). It's a time to revisit the process that God started when we all went through this conference the first time.

So how do I summarize what it is we talk about here? I thought this excerpt from The Magnificent Defeat, by Frederick Beuchner might do it. He's talking about "The Two Battles" Forgive me if it's a little long -  I cut a lot out!:

“The first is a war of conquest . . . All our lives we fight for a place in the sun . . . we feel that we must conquer a territory in time and space that will be ours. And that is true. We must.
"What is the armor to wear in such a war? Not, certainly, the whole armor of God here but, rather the whole armor of man, because this is a man’s war against other men. In such a war, perhaps, you wear something like this: Gird your loin with wisdom . . . put on the breastplate of self-confidence . . . let your feet be shod with the gospel of success . . . above all take the shield of security . . . and the helmet of attractiveness or personality or the sword of wit.
"The other war is not the war to conquer but the war to become whole and at peace inside our skins . . . it is the war to become a human being. This is the goal we are really after and that God is really after. This is the goal that power, success, and security are only forlorn substitutes for.
"(What we must be set free from is) the darkness in ourselves that we never fully see or fully understand or feel fully responsible for, although Heaven knows we are more than a little responsible. (Paul identifies it as,) ‘I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.’ . . . The evil in ourselves as individuals is greater than the evil that we choose, and that is great enough. This is the darkness which we need to be liberated from in order to become human.
"It is for this war, not the other one, that we need the whole armor of God . . . He is the truth about who man really is, about what it means to be really human, and about who God really is . . . In the great war of liberation, it is imperative to keep in touch always with the only one who can liberate.
"Even if we do not find our place in the sun, or not quite the place we want, or a place where the sun is not as bright as we always dreamed that it would be, this is not the end because this is not really the decisive war even though we spend so much of our lives assuming that it is. The decisive war is the other one – to become fully human, which means to become compassionate, honest, brave . . . (this) is the war which every man can win who wills to win because it is the war which God also wills us to win and will arm us to win if only we will accept His armor.”
So I guess we are talking about the battles in our ourselves, and where we are putting our energy - are we still putting into fighting the first battle? Or are we learning more and more to trust in God and His armor to become who we were really meant to be in Him? 
What about you? Which battle are you fighting? 

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