Unbelievers aren’t the enemy in this war, they’re the innocent civilians.

If the last sixty years of American military conflict has taught us anything, it’s that you can defeat the opposing military, but still lose the war.

In this mission to redeem the American media, and in the Church in general, a lot of our language is war-like. We advance the gospel. We fight, we battle, we defend, we fortify. We talk of putting on armor and defeating the enemy.

All good things. As long as we remember who the enemy is.

The enemy is satan.

Unbelievers are not the enemy. Unbelievers are the innocent civilians, caught in the middle of a war they didn’t ask for and don’t understand.

Even the deliberate human agents of satan are objects of God’s compassion. It’s God’s heart for these misguided people to be restored and saved just as much as that’s His will for you and me.

The U.S. military is unquestionably the most powerful in the world. We can crush the military of any single country, or even most groups of countries, at any time, and we have done so. But we’ve also  failed to win the hearts and minds of the people we’re “liberating,” oftentimes leaving them worse off than when we arrived.

In the same way, the power of the Kingdom of God absolutely dwarfs the power of the kingdom of darkness. No comparison. Light wins every time.

Even when we are persecuted, we are still operating from a place of power. We are always seated with Christ in heavenly places.

Liberals are not the enemy. Transgendered people are not the enemy. Muslims are not the enemy. We should be rightly concerned about these things, but these people are not the enemy. We cannot be willing to defeat them at any cost.

We’re here to save liberals from the enemy, and conservatives, too. We’re here to save transgendered people from the enemy. We’re here to save muslims from the enemy.

We can never lose sight of that, or we may finally defeat the enemy in American culture only to find that we lost the war. Truth be told, the enemy was already defeated two thousand years ago, the real battle is for the hearts and minds of the civilians. Let’s not settle for collateral damage.

Thomas Aquinas once wrote that, “how we achieve something is as important to it’s being virtuous as what we achieve.”

Jesus sent out His disciples with instructions to be “wise as serpents and as gentle as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) Know what’s right, see the devil’s schemes, as Paul said to Timothy, “rightly divide the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) But our application of that wisdom is to be gentle, compassionate, covered in love.

When Jesus returns, He will finish off whatever power remains of the enemy. That’s a done deal. In the meantime, our great commission is one of compassion on the civilians, not one of dominance over them. The manner in which we bring the truth matters. To defeat the enemy at the expense of those we’re supposed to be ministering to is no victory at all.

The Great Commission is for unbelievers, not against them.

In the echo chambers of modern media, don’t forget who the real enemy is. Let’s not lose our loving compassion for all those who are being mistreated, manipulated, and abused by that enemy.

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