Our Greatest Battle

There is no doubt we are living in a deeply confused culture. Good has become evil and evil has become good. 

Whether it’s the staggering number of abortions performed each day, the avalanche of gender ideology on display or the more subtle yet forceful wave of transhumanism seeping into our culture, we either feel compelled to fight or take cover and pray until the battle comes to an end.

And yet none of these is our greatest battle.  

Our greatest battle rages within our own hearts. 

Because if we feel called to fight the culture war, we need to ask ourselves: Are we bringing the sword of the Christian, which is truth in love?

Or do we quickly judge those we claim we want to save? Do we become enraged? Hateful? Do we want to put these “sinners” in a box and keep them there, while those of us, who are more righteous or holy, remain on our pedestals looking down at them?

Oh yes, this is our greatest threat - the threat of becoming a Pharisee.

And this threat should not be taken lightly. When it came to the scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus did not mince words: 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.” (Matthew 23: 27-28)

Eek.. that’s not the sit-around-the-campfire-and-sing-kumbaya Jesus that many of us like to think he is... 

As much as Jesus is an all-loving and all-merciful Savior, he does not hesitate to call out duplicitous hearts. And I think we’re all lying to ourselves if we don’t recognize that we, too, can sometimes fall into the trap of becoming like the Pharisees. 

In contrast, Jesus called the tax collector, Zacchaeus, down from the tree; he revealed himself as the Messiah to a Samaritan woman with several husbands; he healed the lepers, the blind and the lame; and he adeptly protected and redeemed the woman caught in adultery.

All of these people were shunned by the more righteous, “holy” people of their time. They lived on the outskirts. They were not deemed worthy of love.

Today, almost 2,000 years later, is a woman who has suffered an abortion any different than these people Jesus called and embraced? Or what about a man who experiences same-sex attraction? Or a despairing couple, when suffering from infertility, turns to IVF, perhaps unaware of the harm it causes?

Are we like the Pharisees, who avoid “the lepers” of our time? Or who, when he prays, thanks God he’s not like these sinners?   

Or are we following in Jesus’ footsteps, and sharing truth in love with our brothers and sisters? Are we offering the same astonishing mercy Christ extends to all of us? 

Make no mistake - our culture is in the midst of a war between good and evil. As Christians, we cannot sit on the sidelines. For too long we have remained silent because we fear the opinion of man rather than the opinion of God. Fighting the culture is our duty.

But if we are to win this war, we must remain vigilant over our own hearts. The tools in our arsenal? Unceasing prayer, scripture and the sacraments. 

This is the Christian strategy. It is the same strategy employed by the disciples. And it’s how they set the world on fire with the love of Christ. 

To keep this fire ablaze, we too, must follow in their footsteps, and ask the Lord to transform our hearts. Because if each of us can win our interior battle, we will surely be victorious in the world.

May we all fight well.