Everyone Needs an Enemy

March 28, 2012

Everyone needs an enemy.

Maybe you don’t believe that.  You think you’re a good, peaceful, super-nice Christian person.  You don’t have any enemies…except your kid who keeps beating you at Chutes and Ladders.

But it’s true.  We’ve all got enemies, and no matter how much we talk about forgiving our enemies, we keep them handy.  Whatever we say, we like keeping our enemies close.  You’ll see what I mean.

Hundreds rally in my hometown.

Trayvon Martin had an enemy.  If you live in a major city like I do, there was probably some kind of rally in his memory this week.  It’s completely unacceptable  that his killer is free, has not even been charged.

But if you ask some people, everyone’s rallying for Trayvon’s killer to be brought to justice, but everyone’s ignoring the real enemy.

A Common Enemy

If I said that Jesse Jackson was wrong, that the black community is not under attack, there is no epidemic of white on black violence, and Jackson and Sharpton are a couple of vultures swooping in on Trayvon Martin’s corpse, then you would call me terrible, white-hooded racist, because I’m a white guy.

But what if C.L. Bryant, former head of the NAACP said it?  Well, he did.  You should read his comments when you’re done here.  They are blistering.

I’ll sum it up: Trayvon Martin’s death is a great opportunity to stir people up with anger against their enemies.  Who is the black community’s biggest supposed enemy?  The white community.  White on black crime is supposedly at epidemic levels.

Except it isn’t true.  The black community’s biggest danger comes from within itself.  I don’t say that to be provocative, I’m just borrowing Bryant’s words.  The truth and awfulness of this hits home to me, as my own home town leads the freaking nation in black on black murder.  I bet most people who live here don’t even know that.  Just recently, a black teen girl, a Christian, full of potential, was shot to death in my town.  It seems that getting any national attention depends on the color of your at-large murderer.  If the killer were white, would the story be different?

Who Is My Enemy?

We all have our pet enemies.  We feel better about ourselves with a scapegoat.

If you ask C.L. Bryant, the black community apparently has far bigger enemies than the white community.  As an outsider, I have to take his word for it.  But I do know this country is full of enemies.  The white community keeps tons of pet enemies around, enemies most of us are never hurt by.

We keep liberals and conservatives close at hand to show just how stupid some people in this country can be.

Don’t forget terrorists.

And gays.  Damn it, gays, you are destroying marriage!

And atheists.  You are waging a war on Christians, and we won’t stand for it!

Men are waging a war on women.

Women are destroying men.

Yep, everyone has an enemy.

My Own Worst Enemy

If you believe C.L. Bryant’s wisdom, who is your real enemy?

The truth is that, often the biggest problems a community has is because of the people inside the community.

Democrats and Republicans will never destroy each other.  They can only destroy themselves with their asinine rhetoric.

I have never had any gays come to my door and try to destroy the sanctity of my marriage.  There’s only two people in the world who can do that.

I have never had any atheists try to stop my from worshipping freely.  Christians are their own worst enemy, with our seemingly infinite ability to sabotage ourselves.

How likely is it that you will be killed by a terrorist?  1 in 30 million.  The mighty Roman empire didn’t fall because of outside invaders.  It collapsed from within.

Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake, and God didn’t buy any of it.  He booted their pasty butts out.

Keep your enemies close, if it makes you feel better.  Maybe you’ll have someone to focus your rhetoric or your anger or your envy on.  But your biggest enemy isn’t prowling the streets, waiting for you.  Your enemy is going to work with you, having dinner with you, running errands with you.  You’re even sleeping with the enemy!  Only you have to power to destroy yourself.

Am I right?  Is C.L. Bryant right?  Do we love a common enemy to focus our anger on, when the much bigger enemy is in the mirror?

22 responses to Everyone Needs an Enemy

  1. Having a common enemy can unite us, but we need to remember who the real enemy is: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

  2. I don’t have many (if any) enemies. I have people who don’t like me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see the good in them. I guess I’ll go back to my game of Chutes and Ladders, then!

  3. Thought provoking, Matt.

    First, I will be interested in seeing all the facts in the Martin case.

    One talk show host here in Boston, Dan Ray called Jackson and Sharpton “race hustlers.”

    The Orlando Sentinel had an article about the shooter being beaten before the shooting. FL has a law on the books which is making any arrest difficult.

    Two sides, right?

    I think it just too early to know, and if prosecutors don’t there is a conviction in the wings, they better be more thorough in investigating than the new media.

    It is easy to have enemies when we see a perceived injustice. (It may in fact be injustice, but there is always a them and us debate.)

    The only enemy we have is the enemy of our soul. Jesus had a remedy for those that persecute us, and in the end, for those of faith, we have eternal life.

  4. It’s WAY easier to blame someone else than to take a good look at ourselves.

    Wait….didn’t Jesus say something about that? Maybe He was on to something, both in the pointing it out to us and in the whole “get the log out of your own eye first” idea in and of itself.

    It’s like He’s God or something. Who knew?

  5. So powerful. Does racism still exist? Yes. Could racism stand at the base of this incident? Yes. Does that mean that the primary enemy is racism? No.

    Thanks for handling this issue with such a powerful grace.

  6. Well said. I am my own worst enemy, or at least, I cooperate with my own worst enemy far too often to be pointing the finger at anyone else.

  7. Reason? Sanity? Self-reflection? Or, in other words, getting your own sh*t in order before blaming someone else?

    All I have to say to that is “A-freaking-men”.

    Unfortunately, those things don’t sell books or generate blog hits. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that they don’t win elections, either.

  8. Once again, this is going on my Facebook page. Thanks, Matt.

  9. I agree with all of you that say we are our own worst enemy.

    When it comes to our faith, we have three worst enemies…the world, our flesh (ourselves), and the Devil.

    Three formidable enemies. But no match for the Living God and His cross. But it is a battle, nonetheless.

  10. Love the blog and love the comments. One thing God is showing me is that people are people. Long ago, a pastor convinced me that there is no such thing as “small sins” vs. “big sins”. James says that mercy triumphs over judgement. People seem to be so quick to judge, whether Christian or not. I wonder if it is partly because we have tried to kick God off His seat of judgement?

    My prayer for the Trayvon situation is that his shooter wil be transformed by God and that mercy & forgiveness reigns.

  11. It was a tough day when God showed me that my husbands issues, however they might affect me, are not my problem. I am constantly bringing to mind Ephesians 6:12, reminding myself that my husband are on the same side.

    I feel like God is constantly shoving a mirror in my face. The MINUTE I start thinking about how someone I know should hear a sermon, up pops the mirror and I have to start performing an internal audit. Psalm 139:23-24 We are to ask God to reveal the things in us that keep us from Him.

    Even today, I was looking around at all the jerks I was coming across and how everyone was in a bad mood. On my way back to the office from lunch, the Holy Spirit brought to mind 1 John 4:7-11, specifically, I heard “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” resonate in my spirit. I realized I didn’t love people today. I wasn’t walking in grace. Ouch! I had to ask for forgiveness when I got back to the office. Then, oddly enough, people were more pleasant… or at least that was my perception.

    Having enemies is a form of flesh preservation. The more you focus on how jacked up everyone else is, the longer your flesh rules your life and changes remain unmade. That is where hypocrisy rolls in and we become modern day pharisees. It also opens the door W I D E for the enemy to parade in and destroy your life.

  12. Look, a Christian has 3 main enemies – the unholy trifecta of the devil, the flesh and the world. We disbelieve the devil really exists (with the exception of the red-pyjama guy in my nightmares). We do not see him as Screwtape more like a bumbling drunk. Self esteem has told me that I am not depraved therefore the flesh is really not the enemy. Who’s left? Its the world! and since Hollywood once sang “We are the World” a Christian’s main enemy is pop culture music! CCM is evil! That is the real enemy!
    Simple arithmetic, really!

  13. When Jesus was tempted in the desert who was defeated?
    The devil offered the temptation but Jesus’ body was defeated when He refused to give into it with bread.

    Jesus ego was defeated when He refused to feed it.

    Jesus heart was confirmed when He declared His loyalty to His Father.

    Adam and Eve failed all these tests in the garden. Satan was the enemy but their own will is the enemy as well.

    I too fail those tests every day

    You are correct so who is the real enemy?

  14. Great post. I chuckled at the bit about sleeping with the enemy :-).