And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. ~ Zechariah 13:6, KJV
In many Sunday sermons, preachers have told us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood humans, but rather we are fighting against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world: against the mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against the wicked spirits in the heavenly realm (cf. Ephesians 6:12). This spiritual warfare is why preachers also have told us that in order for us to be “…strong in the Lord, and the power of his might” we must put on the whole armor of the Lord so that we will be knowledgeable about and, therefore, able to stand firm against the Devil’s strategies and tricks (cf. Ephesians 6:10-11).
Unfortunately, many Christian soldiers have misunderstood their preachers and the apostle Paul’s words to be a literal battle cry and, thus, have chosen to engage in a natural, physical war (one in which they use their spiritual weapons to punish or teach others). Furthermore, when the above quoted Zechariah 13:6 Scripture is understood in the context of the betrayals and the pains that come from bearing one’s cross, that is, in terms of crucified with Christ believers being destroyed or wounded by household of faith brothers and sisters, then it should be easy to see how this verse also can apply to today’s far too many Christian soldiers who have chosen to engage in a natural, physical war, in particular, a war in which they use their “spiritual weapons” to punish, teach, or publicly expose the sins and weaknesses of other believers.
Typically, this physical war is fought with the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God), only not by using God’s Word in a loving, encouraging, and edifying way, while correcting, warning, advising, or teaching other believers, but rather by preaching and teaching God’s Truths with viperous tongues, or speaking His Word in vindictive prayers, and so forth. Then too, sometimes those individuals who are abusers of their “spiritual weapons” also often resort to fisticuffs. The point here is that, when Christians verbally or physically clash (e.g., have opposing political views, or opposing biblical interpretations/understandings), the black eyes, broken hearts, crippled ministries, and so on, that so many brothers and sisters in Christ experience, often will come under the heading of “friendly fire” (or non-hostile fire). Indeed, friendly-fire casualties (whether fatal, critical, or detrimental) happen on a daily basis!
Now the phrase “friendly fire” generally is associated with nations’ military forces that have had individuals who, while fighting in a war, have died, have been critically wounded, or have been noticeably hurt in numerous ways. These killed or wounded individuals, however, did not receive their battle injuries at the hands of their enemy, but rather their deadly or harmful blows were because of their own comrades’ intentional or accidental attacks.
Despite that, just as there can be nothing “friendly” about being killed or wounded by fellow military personnel, there also can be nothing “friendly” about being destroyed or crippled by fellow Army of the Lord soldiers, not even when Christian soldiers’ collateral damage is accidental. For this reason, Christian believers also have come to see this “friendly fire” phrase as being the biggest unfavorable oxymoron since the “Christian soldiers” phrase. Most Christians see the “friendly fire” phrase as an unfavorable oxymoron, because the unflattering distinguishable aspect about Christian soldiers’ friendly-fire incidents is that believers are using their Christian “spiritual” weapons for the sole purpose of deliberately wounding or killing members in the Lord’s Army.
Unlike the United States military’s most recent friendly-fire incidents in Iraq, which tend to be more accidental, many of the friendly-fire incidents with Christian soldiers, in the Army of the Lord, have been on purpose and from an evil intent. America’s military friendly-fire incidents are because of the basic problem governments have with all forms of coalition warfare—problems with coordinating the efforts and movements of different types of forces in a vast theater. However, even though most Christians are not members of their nation’s Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Reserves, or National Guard, many believers still have experienced friendly-fire incidents (times when brother and sister soldiers have been crippled or fatally wounded) because of the unintentional AND intentional harmful acts of spiritually armed Christians.
Regrettably, because many of the spiritually armed Christians just do not know how to resolve their conflicts (differing opinions, and etcetera) in nonviolent and inoffensive ways, there are far too many soldiers in the Army of the Lord who have had their lives spiritually impaired or destroyed by “friendly fire.” Indeed, it is a matter of record that Christians often not only wound but also “bury” those they have wounded!
It is important to note that the Christians who are committing these egregious acts are in no way operating in godly love or peace. Moreover, what these treacherous Christian soldiers fail to see is that God never is glorified and His cause never is strengthened when disingenuous Christian soldiers forget who the enemy really is and start aiming at each other.
So that believers know how to glorify God, especially while interacting with believers who are sinning, Jesus the Christ teaches believers how to deal with sin in the “church.” Although the verses in Matthew 18:15-19 cover the biblical form of resolution management, very few Christians know of or follow this detailed method. Instead, they mostly deal with their conflicts by shooting (or stabbing) fellow Christians soldiers in the back, and sometimes they confront their brothers or sisters face to face. Nevertheless, regardless of how the attacks are done, the bottom line is that these disingenuous Christian soldiers will use every opportunity provided to them either to undermine some Christian soldiers’ ministries, or to restrict other Christian soldiers’ walk with the Lord.
Primarily, these hypocritical Christians soldiers will gossip about, scold, reprimand, criticize, accuse, or bicker with their brothers and sisters in Christ, most often without giving their fellow soldiers a chance to rectify any “perceived” wrong. In fact, hypocritical Christians who are ignorant of or disobedient to the established Christian resolution management, as discussed in Matthew 18:15-19, are those who give “turning the other cheek” a new meaning when they open “friendly fire” on fellow Christian soldiers.
In essence, the Christian soldiers who are beating other Christian soldiers upside their heads are the main ones who have not used God’s spiritual weapons properly. The apostle Paul says that spiritual weapons are to be used for pulling down the Devil’s strongholds, and not for keeping people from knowing the true God (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6). Therefore, when believers belittle, badger, blame, demean, destroy, libel, or slander their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, all in the name of teaching their brothers and sisters how to obey Christ, or in the name of correcting or punishing their disobedient brothers and sisters, these unloving acts (treatments) become spiritual abuse. Indeed, verbal spiritual abuse is the worst manifestation of human evil, because it is a subtle and insidious form of abuse. Why? Verbal spiritual abuse is so hard to recognize, at times, simply because it often is masked by apparently well-meaning sentiments like: “This is just an FYI”; or “we only want God’s best for you”; or “please do not take this the wrong way”; and even the “we don’t mean any harm, but…”!
Even though James warns people about the dangers of their tongues (cf. James 3:1-10), knowing this Divine Truth does not guarantee that insincere Christians will seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance before they decide to use their deadly tongues. In many spiritual abuse cases, one moment these deadly tongues are praising the Lord, and the next moment they are cursing and condemning God’s adopted sons and daughters. Consequently, when Christians’ tongues become the weapons that are used in friendly-fire attacks, especially when they are used to wage war against fellow Christian soldiers via tongue lashings, condemnations, false accusations, cursings, gossips, libels, and slanderous statements, then the Lord’s rules of engagement for spiritual warfare have been dishonored.
Any time when Christian soldiers’ plans specifically have been to use their Christian weapons in a malicious way, like to teach or punish (to destroy or cripple) other Christian soldiers, then their friendly-fire attacks have dishonored the Lord’s rules of engagement for spiritual warfare. In fact, no matter if believers intended to destroy, cripple, and/or shame their fellow Christian soldiers, or if their fellow Christian soldiers’ brokenness and injuries happened unintentionally, the truth of the matter is that spiritual abuse has taken place any time believers have been in the least bit unsociable, unsympathetic, unreceptive, unforgiving, unfair, unkind, and unloving toward other believers.
Now, in order for the entire Body of Christ to put an end to friendly-fire casualties, EVERY believer in Christ must take care not to treat another believer in Christ the same way that the world treats its people. Godly love first and foremost should be in Christ’s BODY, which means that people who call themselves Christians should be practicing among themselves what they preach and teach to unbelievers or to other believers. Thus, Christian soldiers ALWAYS should be demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ to EVERY Army of the Lord believer.
For sure, as true believers, our first priority is to show each other the same God-kind of love our Lord not only demonstrated for us but also put in those of us who are born again, saved, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Our second priority is to show the world this same love of God. Lastly, without a doubt, the Christians who are truly godly (who are the Lord’s saints) will be the believers who are following the biblically prescribed methods for dealing with one another, especially in every Christian soldier to Christian soldier relationship!