In the Thick of It

Jesus came to his own, but he already knew they would not receive him. Sometimes our enemies are those nearest to us. However, wherever we may roam in this world, we will always be living in enemy territory.

Bonhoeffer wrote:

Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies…So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes.

Bonhoeffer, Life Together

That’s what our Master prays for us. It’s there in black and white:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

John 17:15 NIV

Jesus prayed for God to keep us here—in the thick of it all, yet not without protection. I’m so grateful for his protection too, for only by his grace and the power of the Holy Spirit living in me can I detect a preemptive strike of Satan.

When the arrows come fast and furious, we’re tempted to run in retreat, close ourselves up in a safe place, and surround ourselves with other believers, a Christian playlist, and the Bible. Over the centuries, some Christians have done just that, well, maybe minus the playlist. They’ve moved to the deserts—the secluded places, to get away from the world.

While I’ll not judge those I know not, I can say we don’t find the concept of seclusion in Scripture, only protection. Lately, I’m experiencing his protection by turning off the noise of the world and allowing myself to hear God’s voice instead. It doesn’t mean I don’t get up and go back into work tomorrow, but it does help me to be better prepared for what I might face.

Even those involved in the fighting were granted home leave from time to time, and we need rest too. It might look like a mini retreat, a visit to a strong believing friend or counselor, or an in-depth Bible study with a group of friends. These provide relief, renewal, and preparation, knowing we too are commanded to return to the fray.

Are you feeling the strains of battle? Don’t retreat for good, but regroup with the help of his Spirit, for the battle rages on—till he comes.

Grace and Peace

Let me hear from you! I'd love your feedback on this post.