These are trying times for America. Our country is possibly the most divided it’s ever been, the two sides seem to be getting more and more extreme, and it doesn’t look like the situation is going to improve any time soon. In fact, if I had to guess, I’d say things are probably going to get worse before they get better.
Because of that, it’s imperative that we Christians remember a key tenet of our faith: no matter what side of the political divide you’re on, or even if you don’t align yourself with either side, you should never think of anybody other than Satan and his minions as your enemies. These days, it’s all too easy to get super militant when we think about people like Donald Trump, the leaders of Planned Parenthood, white nationalists, or Catholic politicians who openly flaunt the Church’s teachings, and to be honest, I get it. They all hold some very troubling positions that don’t square with our faith.
But no matter how bad these people (or any others) may get, they’re not our true enemies. Sure, we may have some sort of enmity or adversarial relationship with the people we think are ruining our country, and we probably should. But at the end of the day, they’re not the ones we’re really fighting against.
Who We Fight Against
Instead, as St. Paul tells us, our real enemies are much more sinister:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)
In these and the following verses, Paul tells us to be strong in our faith and to live it out authentically, and he tells us why we need to do this: because we are fighting not against “flesh and blood” but against the spiritual forces that are trying to destroy our souls. Notice, he doesn’t say that we’re fighting against our fellow human beings who are hostile to the faith. He doesn’t say that our enemies are the people persecuting us or trying to make it difficult for us to live out our beliefs. No, our real enemies are the devil and his minions, and at the end of the day, they’re the ones we really need to fight against.
Who We Pray For
On the flipside, when he talks about human beings, even those who might be hostile to us and our faith, he tells us to pray for them:
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
God wants everyone to be saved, and that’s what we should want as well. Just like St. Paul tells us, we should pray for the salvation of all souls, and yes, that includes all the people who we might think (whether rightly or wrongly) are ruining our country. We need to pray for Donald Trump, for Joe Biden, for the democrats, for the republicans, for the leaders of Planned Parenthood, and for anybody else you might think of as your enemy.
Because they’re not our enemies. At worst, they’re spiritual POWs who desperately need to be saved from their sins, and we need to do our part to rescue them. In particular, I would suggest that we begin by praying for them more than we complain about them. While some of us can do more than that, all of us can do at least that. That’s the Christian attitude, and anything else plays right into the hands of our real enemies, Satan and his minions, who enjoy few things more than seeing us focus our energy in the wrong place, thereby weakening our ultimate goal of the salvation of souls.