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  • Writer's pictureHarry Smith

Us v them…

Following on from a meeting with another ministry leader yesterday, I felt the prompting to put these few thoughts together:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 

A few months back I sensed God saying to me replace the words “flesh and blood” with “us and them.”  That’s very much how many see society here in Northern Ireland and I also sense in the USA - it’s us v them: Protestant v Catholic, Republican v Democrat. But my increased understanding of the little-known Doctrine of Discovery (the legal, political and theological framework for Empire expansion, devised by the Papacy and embraced by the English crown, post-Reformation), has led me to see this as an expression of what is in essence the “spirit of empire” - the marriage of Empire and Christianity under Constantine - Christendom! What the second half of the verse is pointing at.

Britain utilised this in Ireland from the mid 12th Century, with the Reformation adding the sectarian element into our divided society; it was also introduced into North America as it developed its colonies, at great cost to the Native American Nations and Black slaves - something which traversed the War of Independence to morph into what became known as Manifest Destiny and White Exceptionalism. The fruits of that same seed of the empire spirit continue to express themselves today, sadly in the churches and politics of our Countries. One could add to that the many other nations that made up the British Empire!

But God is saying to us - “It’s not about us v them.” There’s a bigger picture, our nations are in a spiritual battle. A battle in which we have all too often, joined forces with Satan. Whether we are a Catholic or a Protestant, Republican or a Democrat we need to realise that this Empire Spirit (albeit with very different manifestations in each group) has been embraced by us all. It’s in the very DNA of our nations. It’s so deeply embedded in us, our minds and our spirits, that it has in the words of the Apostle Paul, become a “stronghold”, informing our worldview - very resistant to change! 

If I am a Christian, I need to be asking myself - whose side am I actually on? We are being called to stand together with Christ “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” They represent everything that is anti-God in our societies - racism and sectarianism being two major expressions, which come to mind. We, as a Kingdom of God people, are being called to seek it first - together!

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