Just before he finished the work that God had sent him to do, Jesus told his disciples that he would soon be arrested, beaten, and killed. The disciples immediately went into a war huddle, vowing they would never let such a thing happen to Jesus, even if it meant they would have to die with him. To their shock and confusion, Jesus was angry with their response and accused them of thinking as man thinks, not as God thinks.
We, as born-again believers, need to think as God thinks. The thought of Jesus getting arrested and killed was unimaginable to the disciples, not only because Jesus was their leader and they loved him, but because it would mean Jesus’ defeat. There was no way they were going to let Jesus be defeated. They knew that if he went down, they all went down, and they weren’t going to let that happen without a fight. They’d sacrificed too much too long to fail.
This is how man thinks – you fight your way out of a bad situation. You fight with your fists or you fight with your sword or you fight with your money or you fight with whatever you have at hand, but you put up a fight. Jesus didn’t want his disciples to fight. He wanted them to stand down and let happen what needed to happen. He wanted them to put their ego and testosterone and weaponry aside and let God do what God needed to do. He wanted them to stay out of it.
Thankfully, when it came time for Jesus’ arrest, most of them did stay out of it, not because they took Jesus’ advice to “think as God thinks”, but because they were terrified for their own physical safety. They were afraid that what was happening to Jesus would also happen to them. That Jesus was actually in the final stretch of a race that he was winning by leaps and bounds was the last thing that occurred to any of them at the time. They saw in Jesus’ arrest his defeat, and in his defeat they saw theirs, and their real (rather than hypothetical) response to their perceived failure wasn’t to fight, but to run and hide.
Sometimes victory looks like defeat.
Our job as born-again believers isn’t to fight physical battles, but spiritual ones. We know that God and all those who side with him ultimately win the war, so what happens to us in between – which battles we win or lose – doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we stay the course and remain true to God, regardless of the witness of our eyes. To think as God thinks is to see beyond what is in front of us: to see by faith, as Jesus did all through his life, and especially in the hours of his crucifixion.
We know how it all ends. We know God and we know Jesus, not as our enemies or as a spiritual concept that is ‘out there somewhere’ – we know God and Jesus as our Father and our brother, respectively, who are always with us. This deeply personal relationship we have with both of them is inseparable from who we are as born-again believers and is all we need to be victorious in our daily battles, regardless of what happens to us physically. We don’t need to use physical weapons because we are weapons. Scripture says that Jesus rides into battle wielding a sharp sword that comes from his mouth. As Jesus’ followers, we have that same sword coming out of our mouths. We just need to remember to use it.
When you take up physical weapons with the intention of using them, you’re fighting as man fights, not as God fights. When you protest the way of the world and the unfolding of God’s justice on Earth, you’re thinking as man thinks, not as God thinks. We need to fight as God fights – with the sword of God’s Word – and to think as God thinks, through the witness of our faith.
Sometimes victory looks like defeat, but only because you’re viewing it with your eyes.