Over the last few weeks, we’ve taken a good look at how Satan pits us, as Christians, against the wrong enemy. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only distraction that he uses. Take a moment to imagine yourself in a desert. Shells are exploding all around you and soldiers are running towards the battle. Cries pierce the hot air and the scream of rockets can be heard in the distance. In the midst of the chaos, the sulfur smoke, and the rata-tat-tat of machine gun fire, one officer stands alone. His rifle leaned casually against his leg, his attention is fully focused on his cell phone. You watch for a moment, wondering if he’s contacting command, only to suddenly realize that he’s fully absorbed in a game of “Raging Fowls”.
Change of scene. It’s the biggest game of the season. The stands are packed with spectators and, with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Central High is down by three points. Sneakers squeaking against the surface of the court, you dodge to your to your left and make an intercept at the foul line. Without thinking twice, you pass the ball to Dusty Hoffman, the team all-star. At six foot-two, with his well-toned muscles and short-cropped hair, he looks every bit the part. Dusty grabs the ball mid-air, dribbles twice, lines up the shot, then stands up straight, smiles, and waves to the cheerleader he’s been dating… and the buzzer sounds.
Ridiculous, right? Maybe not. When Satan can’t successfully pit us against the wrong enemy, he’s forced to rely on other means to try to draw our attention away from the battle altogether. Paul warns of this in 2 Timothy 2:1-4:
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”
Sadly, it is the “affairs of everyday life” that most frequently result in one of God’s soldiers being taken out of the battle. Just like the officer and his video game or Dusty and his girlfriend, Satan’s goal is to get us so tied up in the trivial that we simply don’t have the time to focus on the war raging around us. Contests for popularity at school or work, the fight for the best wardrobe, the newest car, the most amazing gaming system, or that coveted football scholarship can all be used to the enemy’s benefit.
In Hebrews 12:1-2, the apostle commands:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
A winning race is a focused one, so stay alert! Keep your head in the battle and your eyes on the ball!