Saturday, April 22, 2006

Our War Against Change

As James wrote in the New Testament, wars and fightings arise among us from our lusts which wage war in our members. Chief among these lusts, certainly, is to stay unchanged, and to make that happen by changing others.

A reader comment on my earlier post on conformity remarks that conforming to our own desires against the truth is a conspiracy of me, myself, and I. As I noticed in Psalm 52 recently, when we do that we are being strong in our desire - and indeed our desire makes us strong in just the same way as does the approval of the mob. This is why we fear to lose our desires, however self-destructive. It always feels like we're being weakened, even killed, and in a sense it's true.

So last - and most important - in the list of what we have to abandon to be disciples of Jesus is ourselves (Matthew 10:34-39).

War is what we do so as not to have to abandon these things, our own desires most of all. We fight so we can stay the same, so we don't have to learn anything. I know there are times that justice and mercy require us to fight, but we'll never get it straight or avoid doing injustice and cruelty until we understand that the war of God is always that we change, and never that we stay the same. And, indeed, is it not hypocrisy to fight to impose on others the very change that we are fighting to avoid for ourselves?

I remember pointing out in a church Bible study that progress in the Christian life consists in losing arguments with God. Nobody could deny it, but nobody stood up and cheered!

Since war aims to achieve conformity to our lusts, it's no surprise that conformity and war go together. The most warlike societies are the most conformist, and the most stupid, because they are at war with the truth, with the wisdom that calls us to self-denial - and so their members counterfeit true self-denial in rejecting their individual humanity in order to become loyal particles in the group. United We Stand! Who demands more slavish conformity, even in small details, than a street gang that does drive-bys? Is it an accident that the "Christian" churches that most delight in war demand the most conformity from their members, and are quickest to punish any deviation from their standards?

Finally, in all this there is justice. Our wars are against change, to keep it the same for ourselves at the expense of others - but nothing brings catastrophic change to us like that kind of fight. They all went to war in 1914 to keep it the same for themselves, but it sure didn't turn out that way. The US went to war in Vietnam to keep the world in line so we could stay the same, but did that happen? The Soviet Union went into Afghanistan for the same reason, and how did that turn out? And American aggression against Iraq was intended to ensure "full spectrum dominance" so as to keep the world safe for the US just as it is, but will it turn out that way?

It might be better to seek peace and pursue it, although doing that will make us change, because it pays! May God show us how, through His truth and His presence, without which that won't happen.

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