Sunday, October 7, 2018

Psychological Warfare

Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my Name.
Ps 91:14
Based on the Hebrew verbs חָשַׁק (which implies attachment) and אֲשַׂגְּבֵהוּ (which is a passive verb implying impenetrability), I might paraphrase v. 14 this way:  

If you cling to me, I'll bring you through. I'll make it impossible to get inside the head of the one who knows who I Am.

I'm zeroing in on this verse this morning, because it reveals something I really need to know. In an era when a dangerous narcissist has conquered much of the Christian church, it is reassuring to know that the psalmist is speaking of more than just a physical conflict. Sometimes battles are psychological, and sometimes the battle for the mind of people of faith is of no less importance than what happened at Gettysburg or at Omaha Beach.

When a leader—whether civil or ecclesiastical—utilizes power to tell her or his followers not to believe what they see and hear, to put others down, to shift the blame to victims, to sanctify harassment and bullying, and even to engage in petty name-calling, it might seem obvious that those who name themselves after Christ (i.e. Christians) would be immune. But should I cling to an ideology instead of the One whom I claim my ideology represents, and should I forget the nature and values of the One after whom I'm named, then my mind is vulnerable to manipulation and even brainwashing.

It's not far-fetched to take a psalm that talks about conflict and apply it to psychological warfare. It is the knowledge of God through which I should filter what I experience, not my attachment to my tribe or my dependence on a political agenda.

You have made me your son, O God; may I cling to you as a Father. Help me to grow in my knowledge of who you are, that my mind and spirit may be a strong fortress that hatred and lies cannot conquer; in the Name of Christ, who taught me to pray...

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