Elevation increases as the atmospheric pressure drops. Cold wind rushing through what’s left of the molecules of oxygen scrambling at this height in the sky. Why is it you can think more clearly at this altitude… when the adrenaline kicks in. No distractions… Just fascination. Thrill. Free falling… thoughts eclipsed in the whirlwind cradling me in the blanket of gravity. Invincible. Peaceful. The feeling of soaring above it all.
You can soar above it all…
If you want to.
Set your minds on things above.
Let goodness rule in your heart.
No need to let the battle consume you. Nor the frenzy provoke you into thoughts spiraling. You are allowed to not stress over it. To not fight back. You are the defender not the retaliator. The protector not the invader. A warrior’s greatest valor is also shown by what He doesn’t war against. And some battles are not meant to be fought.
You don’t have to be the one who fights back… rise above. And be the one who teaches them how to lay down their sword. So the battle can finally be won.
Jesus won the battle this way.
He shattered evil forever.
Now, there will be a day when Jesus picks up a sword to avenge evil and darkness for good. But it wasn’t this day. Not this battle. What battles are you fighting? Do you need to be?
Fighting to be right is not a battle you need to fight. Fighting with your loved ones is not a battle you need to fight. Fighting over possessions is not a battle you need to fight. Fighting to get even is not a battle you need to fight. It doesn’t lead anywhere…
Some battles are not meant to be fought.
Some battles are meant to be surrendered, because the fight itself is an illusion. Only trying to rob you of your peace and joy. Take notice of the battle trying to lure you into war and think about if it’s neccessary or not for the kingdom of good. For the kingdom of God.
The devil wants to trap you into a fight. But when fights come your way, God is always the one to step in and fight for you. His way.
Jesus had to teach Peter how to do this when he took his sword to cut of the centurion’s ear in the Garden of Gethsamane.
“Those who live by the sword die by the sword…” Jesus tells Peter. Only Jesus can bear that weight. It’s His job. Not Peter’s And this battle Jesus is about to face is not meant to be fought. He is meant to die so that He can win the war on death forever by arising from the grave.
Jesus is going to rise above.
Three days before He will ascend to Heaven, Jesus must undergo one of the most barbaric attacks on human life ever witnessed. A Roman crucifixion. It’s not the treatment one would expect a king to be given. A king is usually untouchable. Unapproachable. Unconquerable. But here we have our Jesus… our King… our greatest warrior… yielding to the harm of his adversary in a moment where His power could have crushed them in a milisecond.
Why didn’t he… retaliate?
It’s not what a king does.
If you really are the King of the Jews call your angels to come and rescue you they mocked.
But that’s not what a warrior does.
A King does not need to prove His identity to anyone.
A warrior does not need to wait for rescue.
Because He is the rescue. His mission is being carried out through his own sacrifice. Jesus knows what He is doing and what He got Himself into. He knows the battleplan strategized against him. He knows the enemy’s tactics and the weak spots that make him vulnerable to attack, but only because He let himself be vulnerable to attack. No one takes my life from Me but I lay it down of My own accord, Jesus says in John 10:18. Now His death and ascension makes the way for everyone else who dies in life to not have to truly die, but to rise above to be with Him in Heaven forever.
A warrior lays down his life.
So that everyone else can rise above.
By his own choice. It’s not taken. Nor is it lost. It’s given… and in giving, something is gained… victory.
Are you willing to let your life be taken by the enemy so that you can provoke the victory?
It’s the mark of heroism…
The mark of God.
No one understands what sacrifice means until they have to let themselves die for another and no one will understand that you died when you lay down your life for them. No one will give a round of applause. The feet of Jesus were cold from the silence as most of his disciples had fleed. His followers scared and scattered as they wondered if they were following who they thought they were following all that time. Maybe we were wrong… maybe He wasn’t the Messiah.
But those who saw… they knew.
“He truly was the Son of God…” they said.
“When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:54
God is not concerned with a temporary loss of His reputation when on the battlefield.
He does what is neccessary to defeat the enemy. So that He can save His people. God’s ways often require abandonment of the self for the advancement of the people and that means laying down your life and what everyone thinks about you.
Are you willing to do what is right even if it appears foolish?
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27
Are you willing to crucify your reputation for the victory of your people?
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25
Are you willing to be made a fool for the battle to be won?
“God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:28-31
Victory is not in force of war nor in retaliation, but in defending its kingdom even unto death. With the power of God. His Holy Spirit.
“For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” 1 Corinthians 4:20
The kind of power needed for victory often requires death of everything your “self” embodies so that another’s life can be generated. To give up your needs. Your desires. Your life. Your dignity. Your time. Your everything. Can you do that? Give up everything you are and everything that conotes living so that another’s ability to live can be restored? That is the mark of a true warrior.
To die for victory is to give up oneself as the main sacrifice in exchange for reward of a win. But to give up oneself is to lose the credit for the win and to lose all dignity associated with the battle itself. Are you still willing to fight if you won’t be credited with the heroism? Are you willing to do the mission if you are the scapegoat that has to go down with the ship? Not many are willing to say yes if it means they have to walk the plank in order for the rest of the ship to be saved.
It reminds me of Jonah.
When the storm hits the seas he tells them, “I am the reason you are experiencing this trouble for I ran from God. Throw me overboard and you all will be saved.” (Jonah 1:12) What a brave statement to say. I feel proud of Jonah when I read this passage. Because even though he consistenly shows his reluctance to obey God’s call to go to Ninevah, He knows God so much better than we think he does. And he is far more obedient than we give him credit for. It’s just in a bizzare context.
Jonah is willing to throw himself overboard so that the rest of the ship can be saved.
That right there is warrior heroism.
I wonder why he isn’t willing to throw himself overboard to go and witness to Ninevah?
Maybe is was leadership fatigue. He’s been a prophet for so long and he knows what comes with being a prohpet. Everyone hates you. Going into Ninevah was not going to be an easy nor enjoyable preaching experience, because it was a pagan land. To Jonah, it was going to be just one more occurence of being mocked for his faith in Yahweh and hated for the truth God would speak through him. Just like Jeremiah…
God always spoke through the prophets many words to the people that they did not want to hear. And so they would try to kill these prophets. That’s why Jeremiah was called “The weeping prophet.” Because he had such a tender loving heart and yet God constantly asked him to preach heavy judgment to Israel and Judah, and Jeremiah’s life was constantly threatened. Anyone who has ever stepped into a mission for God will understand this. It’s not always fun to be a missionary. And many people will hate you for it. Even those who claim to be a christian. Because God will speak words and truth they people don’t always want to hear. But you have to keep obeying God anyways. And as you, you find joy when you give up the need to be understood. Give up the need to be respected and honored for what you do, and you can find peace knowing God sees and He experienced the exact same thing as a minister heere on this earth too.
Following God will put you at odds with man.
Have courage to follow God anyway.
Jesus followed God to the cross. And He had his life brutally and disrespectfully taken from him. Are you willing to go through that same shame? Because if you are going to say yes to Jesus, you too will face this. I have in my own life already.
This world is resistant to Jesus and your allegiegance to Him.
Are you going to retaliate everytime someone attacks you? Or are you going to turn the other cheek?
Turn the other cheek…
Love turns the other cheek.
Love rises above the fight.
Love doesn’t seek harm even to its transgressor.
Forgive them for they know not what they do… Jesus uttered.
You must turn the other cheek.
This phrase has been used for decades. Centuries in fact. Ever since it was first spoken from the mouth of our beautiful Savior. Jesus… He was the first one to teach us how to turn the other cheek. And He lived it. He didn’t just say it.
What does it mean to turn the other cheek?
Let’s go back to what Jesus said about this to understand more deeply.
In the sermon on the mountain, Jesus is preaching to large crowds who are all gathered to hear Him. They came to Him because what they heard was so powerful and poignant. Truthful. Life giving. Helpful. Real. Substantial and actually meaningful. Truth does that… it resonates with the heart for those who long to live by it. They can discern it when they heart it.
Matthew chapter 5 is where we find this dialogue and Jesus says this…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
To turn the other cheek is to deny the opportunity to fight back when wronged. And it is to go a step farther and offer the transgressor another blow to you. Do it again… essentially. But not with sarcasm. With purity. If you want to hit me, you can do it again. Do what you came to do. Like Jesus told Judas in the Garden, DO what you came to do and do it quickly. Judas betrayed him. Eventually you will be also.
We have to turn the other cheek for our own benefit.
For own purity and goodness to remain.
Don’t let the devil woo you into a fight where he will take away your goodness. Don’t even get into the ring with him.
Your character is amplified upon this principle: Being kind to those who wrong you. Rejecting the urge to retaliate.
This heightens the standards of what it means to love others, enemies included. Enemies typify anyone who is against Jesus Christ as Lord and thus also against you. I’ve found that there is a spirit of the antichrist that exists in the world that causes animosity towards Jesus even when people don’t realize it. Some will hate you just because of Jesus’ spirit in you. Don’t be alarmed when you encounter it. Not everyone in the earth will honor Jesus and you have to be confident enough in yourself to understand that and not let it deter you. Love regardless and keep doing what Jesus called you to do.
“And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:40-42
Jesus is making it crystal clear… it is not a trait of godliness to get back at anyone who harms you nor deny someone who seeks to harm you.
You are not permitted to “get even” with anyone. That is a demonic spirit. To get back at someone. And it has no place in your heart! You have to be the bigger person. This only comes from the fruit of the spirit of self control and kindness and gentleness. Love. Choose to love even when you hate the sin that you are witnessing. God sees and He will be the one to handle it, but not you. You have to rise higher.
There is no room for retaliation in the heart of a believer.
In the heart of a warrior.
Retaliation is the son of evil. It’s the seed of hatred.
Stay away from it.
“Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.” Proverbs 24:29
Retaliation is a sign of immaturity.
Retaliation reveals a lack of godliness. It’s a fruit of an unpruned tree that refuses to submit itself to the Gardener and better itself. Thus it remains in a stunted growth pattern. An unwatered garden festering with weeds. Retaliation stems from anger and bitterness, not from a place of love nor purity. Therefore retaliation will never be okay for someone who claims to follow Jesus as Lord.
“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23
Jesus is the ultimate example of a warrior who did not retaliate when wronged and He could have if He wanted to… He had every right to. But he did not… “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.” Isaiah 50:6
Jesus did not come to fight humans. He came to save them.
What if you determined to live the same way?
Jesus did not need to retaliate because He knew who He was.
He was the King.
And still is.
He did not need to prove Himself to anyone.
Confidence will always walk you triumphantly through a warzone.
Confidence in your identity as Jesus Beloved will save you from getting into battles with your neighbor. Because you are not worried about your personal condition nor how you are perceived by others. You are willing to take a hit and keep going because you know to what Kingdom you belong. Jesus’ kingdom.
The higher of a warrior you are the more you can take. Because you know your mission is worth it. Jesus took all the shame and torture because He knew the mission was worth it… to have you. His beloved forever.
Valiant warriors will endure great pain and humiliation while en route to accomplishing their greatest missions.
But if you retaliate… you ruin the mission. And victory will no longer be possible.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20
Retaliation is a form of insecurity. It causes a person to act or say something in order to save face and uphold their reputation but in doing do, the very reputation sought to be upheld is imploded because of the immaturity of retaliation/harm/assault committed in the process. Be confident in who you are and you will never need to retaliate in order to save your reputation. God sees and God knows. Let Him honor you.
Trying to gain honor in the wrong way will only produce dishonor.
Warriors do not retaliate.
They don’t proactively start fights.
Warriors rise above the animalistic barbaric debauchery they witness in order to achieve a victory for good over evil. You cannot win for the side of good if you give in to become like the bad. You must be the bigger person and rise above.
Warriors guard the purity of the kingdom.
This reminds of Psalm 84, one I love so much because it talks about dwelling in the house of the Lord. Psalm 84:10 says this…”I would rather be a doorkeeper (a watchman/guard) in the House of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” To be a doorkeeper meant that you guarded the outside door to the place of worship. It’s a noble and heroic honor to guard God’s house. Even though it puts you in a place of isolation and you don’t get to join in with what is going on inside. But just to be at the door… is so much better, the psalmist says, than to do enjoy the revelry and parties with the wicked. Better to be a doorkeeper in purity than at the high table with the wicked.
The watchman demonstrates godly valor.
For if there is not a watchman, how can the safety of the House be ensured? A watchman embodies the heart of a warrior, rooted in self sacrifice for the betterment of everyone else over himself. Giving up his own pleasure so that everyone else can delight inside in the house of the Lord.
A warrior leads at the expense of his own self so that others can benefit.
Warriors act in love and self sacrifice, which compels them to act in such a way that guards their people from the intruder. They kick out the ungodly invaders that corrupt the goodness of the house and kingdom. True warriors of valor act as defenders. Warriors do not act in hatred nor rage nor anger… that is unbecoming of a warrior cloaked in dignity. They protect their people.
The one who starts a fight is the one who will bear the punishment for its inception.
The one who defends the weak in a fight will be marked with heroism.
Jesus defended the weak when he decided to step in front and take the blow so they wouldn’t have to. So we wouldn’t have to. That is heroism. Jesus protected His kingdom when He decided to pay the punishment his people had accrued because of their wrongdoings, not His. That is selflessness. Valor. Ultimate kindness and bravery. The mark of a King. The heart of a warrior.
A warrior’s heart defends and protects.
They don’t need initiate battles. They are simply there to do what it takes to deter them from ever reaching the proximity of their loved ones.
Are you a retaliator or a protector?
Are you one who stirs up conflict? Or one who addresses it and diffuses it?
Jesus addresses conflict head on… marked by a crown of thorns He bore from the cross awaiting him the day following. Sacrifice was his victory strategy. He never picked up a weapon… and went to the mountain top destined for his death. A death he didn’t deserve. To defend his Beloved. To save you from ever having to die without hope.
If a warrior is one who conquers for Jesus, then by Jesus’ word alone to do we live by. His precepts are the rulebook and there is no other way to fight except His way. And His way says… don’t fight back. Let them win. Why? Because they are not truly winning. Someone who strikes you and thinks they won did not win anything. They actually lost. They lost their innocence. They lost their goodness. They lost their dignity. They lost their purity. But you… when you do not act back and let them hit you again… you just won by your goodness. You just won in maturity. You just won in decency. You just won in tactfulness. Anyone can fight back, That takes no class and no dignity. But it takes courage to stay still when attacked. It takes courage to overlook an offense. It takes courage stay joyful when wronged. It takes courage to be King when others are being on being immature.
There is a day coming when we will see a different side of Jesus… the side of His thigh marked with a name King of kings and Lord of lords. A sword protruding out of his mouth and a vengeance ferocity on his face.
Jesus is also the warrior who avenges His people.
The only warrior who gets to avenge…
The only One who’s death on the cross could erase every sin.
It is Jesus’ right and Jesus’ fight to defeat evil for good. Let Him have that battle.
Jesus is a fierce warrior who defends His beloved by defeating Satan.
He is our holy warrior who triumphs over evil because He is our perfect and holy God. A ferocious warrior. He defends you. He protects you. He fights for you and honors you. He loves you… and He will never stop loving you. Let Him be your warrior. And choose to rise above every battle so that you can soar with God in Heaven. Elevated to holy and pure living with the King.
the nations rage
the cosmos shake
beneath our feet
but I lifted off the ground
when You held me
it didn’t matter anymore
when You kissed me
the world around me
danced into yesterday
because You won the victory
I give all my heart to You
forever is just one lifetime away
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2