When Children Fight

I don’t know about you, but I find the internecine fighting between the children of Islam in Iraq so terribly sad. Sunnis against Shiites, Shiites against Sunnis have been the headlines these past seven days. But it’s not like Muslims have a corner on the market of intra-family killing. This aging, disintegrating planet has lived with that tragedy from “in the beginning” with Cain and Abel. And while it might assuage our consciences to point the finger at Islam, the sorrowful truth is that the American Civil War and the terrorist killings between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland are evidence enough that Christianity (or a perversion thereof) can be justly fingered as well. Of course, the crooked finger rightfully deserves to be pointed straight at someone else, someone whose hatred of the Creator King is still (after all these millennia) so intense, so insane that he derives a sadistic (satanic would be the better word) pleasure in injecting the children of the heavenly Father with his own poisonous rage. “And war broke out in Heaven . . . . but woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you ‘wild and raging with anger’” (Revelation 12:7, 12—see The Message). Jesus’ own finger-pointing truthfully declared, “An enemy has done this” (Matthew 13:28). So what’s a Father to do? Here are some not-so-simple suggestions about what you and I might do: 1) Let’s you and I resolve that by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will not let intra-family anger, hatred or even resentment spring up in our own homes, our own hearts. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 5:26) is inspired counsel for marriages, families, friendships and workplace relationships. Before the day ends, talk it out, email it out, pray it out together. 2) Let’s you and I invest some extra time on our knees, pleading with God to intervene (even while He allows and protects free choice) in the rage and killing, that the innocent might be spared and that the guilty might yet be reached. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be the children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44, 45). While Jesus’ counsel was for us, why can’t we exercise this loving and praying on behalf of others far away? 3) Let’s you and I offer ourselves to God to become peacemakers in the circles where we live, work, play. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). We may not be able to heal the whole world, but why couldn’t God’s healing peace flow through the way we speak to each other, the way we choose not to forward that angry, judgmental piece of gossip, the way we become involved in quiet shuttle-diplomacy between two estranged brothers or sisters who need the Peacemaker Himself? When children fight, what’s a Father to do? Could it be that you are what He’s wanting to do to stop it?