Friday, August 16, 2019

Prepared for Battle

Think for a moment about the battles that the Lord called His people to fight in the Scriptures. The weapons they used are as diverse as the enemies they took on, everything from clay pots to swords to a sling and a few stones. When we think about the weapons of the people of Israel, they are primitive, but they are also big, bulky, and demanding of a certain physical strength to utilize. 

Interesting, then, that the Psalmist talks about fingers being prepare for warfare (Psalm 144). 


Certainly, there were a number of weapons for young Israel where fingers would have played an important part. Particularly, we're thinking here about slingshots and bows, weapons where the fingers are used in delicate strength to take perfect aim. In other words, God's concern in warfare was that you knew your target and were prepared to go directly for it without a lot of collateral damage. 

This passage struck me recently as I read through the Scripture, though, for another, more contemporary reason: the warfare of ideas. 

"Keyboard warriors," as they are called, take a lot of flak in our culture. We talk about them for their lack of dexterity and skill, if nothing else. It takes almost nothing for anyone to sit behind a computer screen and type up something that takes aim at a particular issue or idea, to say something he or she would not be as willing to say in person, to put on a false bravado and pretend to be righteous and just when often, their stance is no such thing. 

And I wonder what it would be like if we, who depend so heavily upon our fingers to do our fighting these days, would have fingers prepared for warfare. Not just for dropping bombs into the wide open spaces of social media and the Internet, but real, engaged warfare. Where we use our words and ideas to directly counter falsehood and depravity in our world. Where, instead of declaring with false bravado what we believe to be right, we were able to deconstruct what we know to be wrong in light of truth and shed new insight on some issues...with love and grace. 

It's tough. The world wants to tell us that it's not just tough, it's impossible. Because in a world built entirely on ideas, no one cares. You aren't ever going to change any minds. You aren't ever going to introduce any new arguments. You aren't going to get there, so everything you do is a waste of your breath. 

Maybe that's right. But maybe it's not. Every issue that I've ever sought to directly engage through my fingers has ended up in an interesting place - a place where we realize that we agree on more than we disagree on, that we have more in common than we ever thought, that even the most divisive issue doesn't tear us apart as wholly as the world wants to convince us that it has to. 

And isn't that a victory in and of itself? If all we ever learn is that we're more alike than we are different? If we discover that we actually want so many of the same things, even if we don't agree on how to get them? 

More than ever, we need fingers prepared for battle. Not for shouting and screaming and indiscriminate ranting and raving, but for real warfare - for direct engagement. Using delicate strength to take perfect aim at the issues of our day. Real issues that are real life and real death and real truth for real human beings in our real communities. 

Think about it. 

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