June 2018

Passions at War

          “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1).   

          I had a conversation with a person in our community. We talked about all kinds of things; family, sports, occupations, and a variety of other issues of this world. I knew this person was not involved with any sort of religion. Therefore, as I desired to talk about religion, I gently opened that door. There had been an issue in the news concerning Jerusalem, so I just brought up the newsworthy point, and I got his view on religion. “Isn’t it crazy? That city has three religions fighting for it. Religions that all talk peace, yet there is so much tension there. So many wars are caused by religion!”

          There was so much to say to defend Christianity and scrutinize the other religions, but that would have just been adding to his perception that religion is full of tension and war; so I responded, “You are right, it is sad when religions that teach peace get caught up in anguish over a certain piece of land. Please realize that Christianity holds sacred the events that have taken place in Jerusalem; however, to fight for that piece of land is not a teaching of true Christianity.” He responded, “Awe, that’s good,” and then he had a couple conversation changing comments. I look forward to further conversations with him, realizing that door to talk about religion has been opened a little.

          James 4:1 (above) identifies that “quarrels” (fights), are the result of “passions at war within” mankind. Passions to obtain land or economic gain have been a couple main reasons for wars through the ages. Another cause, that has many subcategories, is what I will call “nationalistic pride.” This is the promotion of some ideology, ethnicity, race and/or system over others. Nationalistic pride has often attempted to drag in religion to justify their selfish reasons for war as well as get more people supporting their war.

          There has been a lot of study on the causes of war. Let me share some information that has credence. Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, 2008, reports that 7% of all wars had religion as a cause. A couple side-notes to that statistic: First, of that 7% only 2% of deaths in war were in religious wars. Religious wars were relatively small. The second side-note is that if Islam is removed from these religious wars, then 3% of all wars are classified with religion as its cause. Such studies reveal the false claim that “religion has caused most wars.” Nevertheless, it is still sad to have any wars having religion as their cause. Secular sources try to delineate the cause of war. We know that sin is the cause for “quarrels” and “fights” due to “passions at war within.” Our flesh is subject to the enticement of a multitude of influences in the world, as Satan insistently uses his deceptive lies to mislead people. These vices (Satan, the world, and our flesh) are the cause of sin.

          May we remember that our faith is given armor and a weapon, according to Ephesians 6:10-20. Daily, we put on the armor of God that protects us from Satan’s arrows and the principalities of this world.  Further, we are equipped with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (vs. 17). Such a “religious” war engages the mind and heart and strives for truth. Praise God for deliverance from sin through Jesus Christ.  

The Lord be with you,  

Pastor Wiseman