Summary: Gordon McDonald in his book: Restoring Your Spiritual Passion presents 4 destructive spirits leading to friendly fire--attacking our fellow-Christians. This sermon takes a deeper look at two.
(Basic outline taken from a chapter in Gordon McDonald’s book: Retoring Your Spiritual Passion)
A. FRIENDLY FIRE
Pat Tillman played safety for the Arizona Cardinals for four years and was offered a 3.6 million dollar contract to return in the fall of 2002 when he decided to LEAVE his LUCRATIVE FOOTBALL CAREER to join the ARMY in response to the 9/11 ATTACK on America. He was trained as an Army Ranger, an elite force EQUIPPED for SPECIAL OPERATIONS.
Tillman was sent to Afghanistan to fight in the WAR on TERROR in Operation Freedom. He was killed on April 22, 2004. Reports said that Tillman was killed while charging at the ENEMY up a hill after being fired upon in a mortar attack, allowing the rest of his PLATOON to escape alive. He was awarded the SILVER STAR for Combat Valor and the PURPLE HEART. Arizona Senator John McCain presented the metals to Tillman’s family at a special CEREMONY.
Within weeks of his death, however, other reports began to surface which revealed that Tillman was not KILLED by ENEMY FIRE after all, but by FRIENDLY FIRE. Apparently there was a MINE EXPLOSION that was mistaken for a MORTAR ATTACK. One group of Army Rangers began to FIRE upon Tillman’s GROUP who had mistaken four ALLY AFGHAN FIGHTERS who were with Tillman as being the ENEMY. After the smoke cleared, Pat Tillman was killed along with an Afghan Fighter and three other American soldiers were WOUNDED. There were no ENEMY FORCES around.
Since Operation Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom, dozens of American Soldiers have been KILLED by FRIENDLY FIRE. Undoubtedly, nothing HURTS military personnel more than to hear of their own COMRADES being KILLED by their FELLOW SOLDIERS.
B. Sadly FRIENDLY FIRE is not UNCOMMON among Christians.
1. We often enjoy SHOOTING our own people.
We have all been GUILTY of ATTACKING our brethren in some way or another. It could be by the GOSSIP we spread, the CRITICISM we give, the FEELINGS we hurt. We WOUND our brothers and sisters by our LACK of LOVE, UNDERSTANDING, and CONCERN for them and their
We turn our own GUNS on our CHURCH FAMILY when we JUDGE them without getting all of the FACTS, when we REFUSE to give them the BENEFIT of the DOUBT, when we QUESTION their SINCERITY as they come seeking our FORGIVENESS.
2. Satan doesn’t have to use the WORLD to DESTROY Christians—we do it for him- Galatians 5:13-15
(READ and COMMENT)
Paul said that “the entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
FRIENDLY FIRE may very well be a HAZARD of WAR that is UNAVOIDABLE. But FRIENDLY FIRE in the Lord’s church must and can be AVOIDED.
In Washington DC there is a MONUMENT erected in memory of the Vietnam War dead. Inscribed on those black granite walls are more than fifty-eight thousand names of men and women who gave their lives for their country. Families and friends still stand before those WALLS weeping as they brush their fingers across the IMBEDDED names of their LOVED ONES.
Just think what it would be like if there was a MONUMENT erected in memory of Christians DESTROYED by their brothers and sisters in Christ. How many names would be INSCRIBED on those walls? How many lives SHATTERED? How many souls LOST? Would you know
some of the NAMES? Would you be GUILTY of putting some of the NAMES there?
As I think of ways that Christians are guilty of “FRIENDLY FIRE,” I cannot help but CONVICT myself of pulling the TRIGGER at times. FRIENDLY FIRE comes in the form of many DEADLY SPIRITS—I want to focus on TWO of them this morning. .
I. THE COMPETITIVE SPIRIT
A. God has called us to work TOGETHER.
1. We are surrounded by people who are just as EXCITED about their service to Christ as we are.
Who are these people? Either they can become our PARTNERS, our ENCOURAGERS, our FELLOW-WORKERS—or they become our COMPETITORS.
2. It was said of Diotrophes by Apostle John that “he loves to be first among the church”- III John 9.
Apparently Diotrophes saw the apostle John as a COMPETITOR and intercepted all the COMMUNICATION that John sent to that congregation. Think about it! The people were denied INPUT from one of the beloved disciples of Jesus because one man REDUCED his
RELATIONSHIP with John to the level of COMPETITION.
3. Competitiveness is a desired TRAIT in our SCHOOLS, BUSINESSES, SPORTS, MILITARY, etc.
Being Americans we grew up in a COMPETITIVE environment. We were raised with the NOTION that everyone around us had to be measured to see who was the BEST. So we compared our MUSCLES, our RUNNING SPEEDS, our SCHOOLS, our CARS, our DATES.