Unfortunately, many of us are familiar with the phrase. The war torn world in which we live there have been reports of one of our own dying in combat. The soldier that took their life wore the same uniform, pledged allegiance to the same flag and had taken the same oath to uphold and defend their country and its declaration of independence.
Or those times a warrior’s time here was cut short, not by accident, but by a misperception. A leader was killed because a comrade at arms did not like the way they led, or had given an order that they disagreed with. The one in charge was perceived as a threat and eliminated.
Headlines telling the world a soldier had shrouded themselves in darkness or camouflaged themselves during daylight. Quietly, in deceit they had gotten close enough to the temporary dwelling of another to end their days, using a weapon that was supposed to only be used against their common enemy.
Friendly fire does not mean the combatants were friends, necessarily. It essentially means they were on the same side, fighting for the same cause, working together towards a common goal. They could well have raised the flag of victory together, only to go to their own homes, live their own lives and not even have known the others’ name.
The parallels between the world of the enlisted and the believers in Jesus Christ are shamefully similar.
How many times I have unintentionally hurt a fellow soldier during combat I could not say for sure. I have spoken a careless word, a crippling comment; ignorantly flailing the sword of the Spirit around in close quarters I have caused pain and felt the sting of remorse because I saw the look in their eye. Jabez did too, by the way.
As sorrowful as those times have been (regretfully, I still have them) those tearful events are not what are on my mind today. Well, maybe I spoke too soon.
What I am trying to find the courage to say is that there are more times I am a willful participant of the other type of “Friendly fire.” Those days I am being controlled by my own spirit instead of being under His control, not walking in or by His spirit.
A misperception, actually it’s an unwillingness to understand, will cross my mind, consequently fueling a fire of passion and I will think to myself: “Hey that sounds like it would be a good topic to write about.”
The ignorance within can be seen by the arrogant smile on my face as I sit down, flipping back the cover of my weapon of choice I view the control panel and begin to load bullets of wisdom, enlightenment and revelation. After making absolutely sure I have as many rounds as possible in the magazine I then adjust the crosshairs on my scope. A marksman knows how crucial vision is in warfare. Of course I leave the safety off, I’m experienced with this particular firearm, and there is no danger of accidentally shooting myself.
With bravado and kingdom allegiance at heart I sit behind my computer; an Internet sniper, and with diabolical skill I acquire my target. I pray for a one shot kill to silence those who I perceive as the enemy, to rid the kingdom of Heaven of this traitor. Like any mercenary worth his salt I don’t need an emotional connection with my intended victim, I just need a reason, any reason, my reason…and a clear shot.
I can see them in the distance; over there, in the Pentecostal camp and to the north in the Baptist outpost or over there in the Methodist barracks. Being the Purple Heart soldier that I certainly am I shoot them in the back. It never entered my mind to ask why they were facing away from me.
There is nothing in the armor of God that makes provision for protecting the back. I’m thinking that is because all of them are facing the enemy head on and they should have no reason to fear an assault from the rear.
Being a sniper can easily be compared to the archers of the Old Testament and the symbolic meanings of their use of arrows. An adversary can be terminated from a great distance. In other words I don’t have to be close to someone to fulfill my duty, to exert my will over them. I don’t have to concern myself with a relationship. Distance from the victim is a luxury that technology has added to my self righteous arsenal.
I fire off all the literary munitions at my disposal, blow the smoke off the barrel of my Gospel Bushmaster and pride myself for having been a good and faithful servant, advancing the interests of my king and country, upholding the written documents that tell of my freedom.
The use of the spear in the scripture shows that the combatant needed to be a little closer to their foe, but not close enough to get a clear view of them. Their relationship to their target was different in this way. (It is becoming clearer to me why the soldier thrust a spear in His side, get close enough to kill, but never close enough to hear His words of love affirmed by His dying there.)
In situations where I have to be up close, but never personal, I can use the shoulder mounted rocket launcher of Truth and send my javelin into the Presbyterian battalion. They don’t share my understanding of the Magna Carte of the Kingdom, the bible, and are impeding the forward march of evangelism. Truth must be defended at all costs; this is hardly a time for mercy.
There have also been those times that camouflage was required. I had to look like them, talk like them and believe the same things that they did. I would mimic the denominational clichés enough to gain their trust. Once they dropped their guard it was easy to toss a grenade of correction into the tent. Pup tent, revival tent, makes no difference to me.
My rules of engagement seem to indicate that any one falling over backward and mumbling like a deranged demoniac deserves to die. They are abominable stains on my robes of self righteousness. I never mind the fact that during World War II they used Navajo Indians as radio operators because there was no way for the other side to translate the language. Communication with the Command Post was flawless. (Ironic, I’m Native American)
“Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven?” is a New Testament explanation as to why I have nuclear devices of doctrinal superiority at my wretched fingertips. Being a good steward of military time it expedites my agenda. I can write articles that obliterate entire denominational encampments. A mushroom cloud ascends over my laptop, rising like a standard, declaring annihilation of the lot of them. Well done, good and faithful warrior of all that is right and true.
My armory includes weapons for hand to hand combat. If, for whatever reason, I cannot defend my position from a safe distance I always have my bayonet close by. When those in my own church, my family cannot be kept at bay with the M-16 of my self willed stubbornness I rely on my ability as a swordsman.
This final aspect of warfare requires incredible amounts of intelligence. Finding the openings in their armor has to be exact. I need to know as many of their weaknesses as possible; precision is a must. A close, very close, relationship is a requirement.
When my place, my portion, my authority as the designated leader of this squad is challenged I have to act quickly. Insubordination will not be tolerated. Leaving this violation of protocol unpunished may tell the enlisted men (my kids) that disobedience has no consequences.
Like Peter, about all I’ve been successful at doing here lately is chopping off my wife’s ears.
The laws of the United States make it illegal for me; a convicted felon, to have in their possession a weapon, yet, the Lord gave me one that is to be concealed. “Your word have I hid in my heart…that I might not sin against you.”
My wife sees Him differently than I do and because of that she has ways that she thinks things should be done around our barracks. Armed with good intentions she advances on my position. Wanting to defend my perception of Jesus, and the bible, I draw the sword and rather than gain an audience with her I hinder her ability to hear a word I have to say.
Saul tried to ensure his place as ruler of his own life, trying more than once to kill the chosen and anointed monarch. It wasn’t until Saul died that David began to govern the people and the affairs of the kingdom.
The same goes for me as well, until I die to myself the “greater than David”, the King of kings, Jesus Christ, will not force me to stand down. His grace and mercy are marvelous, but so is His patience.
I wish I had the conviction of Saul; that I would fall on my own sword, because quite frankly I’m battle fatigued from trying to kill the (Son of) David in my puny little kingdom. I see Him in my wife, but not understanding that it is really Him I pin her to the wall of my pathetic little palace.
I cry for understanding, pleading with Him to tell me why on earth did He give me such a powerful weapon?
His reply: “Fall on it, for you see son, in losing your life, you’ll find it.”
“But, Lord, what about all those that do not appear to be on our side? Don’t I have good reason to confront them?”
“But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest and at that time of harvest I will say…” (Matthew 18:29, 30 NKJV)
Rather than looking for Him in my Pentecostal, Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist family members I am “up in arms” over a minor doctrinal issue, when I would be better off “up in His arms”, then I will be joyously disarmed.
Better by far to be like Jesus, there by the shores of Galilee, cooking fish over a fire for His friends. That is the ultimate in a Friendly Fire.