THE ‘LOWER GAZA’ OF OUR LIVES

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The conflict in Gaza has taken a new twist. Hamas, the Islamic Terrorist Organization, has been making secret inroads into Israeli territory through underground tunnels. An expansive labyrinth of passages connecting bunkers, weapon stores and rocket-launching sites lies deep beneath the war-torn surface of the conflict zone. If this hidden invading infrastructure is ignored, the Hamas charter to “obliterat(e) … Israel” will be one step closer to being realized. The trouble is, the tunnels often begin beneath structures used by civilians – hospitals, schools, and UN safehouses.

We shouldn’t be surprised when we hear of underground invasions like this. It’s often the way the enemy works. The ‘Lower Gaza’ we may discover encroaching on our lives often digs its first trenches just below the surface of good things in our lives.

For instance, our relationships with other people are unquestionably the highest good God has given us on this earth. And yet, we often find certain relationships bring out the worst in us; we discover veins of jealously, vents of anger, shafts of impatience and a mother lode of other unpleasant characteristics in ourselves through our relationships. If we fail to envision scenarios in our own lives that illustrate this tendency, perhaps we haven’t woken up to the reality of the danger yet. The tunnels are there. Weapons are stored there. Rocket-launching sites are poised to explode under our smooth exterior unless we deal with the source of the problem.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:” begins a first century apostle of Jesus, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:5-9).

It’s so easy to say we have fellowship with God – to suggest that we are in right relationship with Him and therefore He approves of our lifestyle. But the Spirit of God here explains, through John’s pen, that fellowship with others – that is, pure, loving, light-giving relationships with those around us – signifies whether we are truly living in fellowship with God. It’s a rewording of the greatest commandment, to love God and to love our neighbour. One demands the other.

Are we honouring our parents? Do we treat them respectfully, recognizing the strengthening role they’ve played in our lives, regardless of their faults?

Are we loving our neighbour? Do we initiate friendly and helpful relations with those who live closest to us, regardless of the offensive actions or remarks we may have overheard?

Are we forgiving our family members? Do we meet them with a fresh appreciation each day, in spite of a history of hurtful hostilities or frustrating foibles?

Are we deliberately shedding light in our day-to-day interactions with work and school colleagues, friends and acquaintances, rather than slandering or manipulating them to our advantage?

Few relational interactions occur in our daily living without something of our natural pride and selfishness coming into play. These are the underground inroads of darkness that can occur in our lives if we ignore the signs. These are the hidden shafts of our old nature that burrow into our lifeblood like a tick under our skin. Unless we choose to shine the revealing light of God’s truth onto these loathsome tendencies, admit they are sins, and accept the costly forgiveness Jesus has provided for us, we will be living a lie. We’ll be walking time bombs, smoldering fuses, hapless hypocrites.

Let’s not be oblivious of the dangers of “walk(ing) in the darkness”. It’s time for a thorough assessment of whether we’ve allowed anything less that truth to be our foundation; we want to truly live in the light, be in fellowship with God and with one another. Let’s commit to exploring the possibility that the enemy has been making hidden inroads into our lives. Let’s ask God for help in this area, joyfully accepting “the blood of Jesus, his Son, (that) purifies us from all sin.” Let’s get on with walking in the light.

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