I don’t know who first coined the phrase we have met the enemy and he is us. I first remember reading it in the comic strip Pogo, written by cartoonist Walt Kelly, featuring a group of animal characters who lived in the Okefenokkee Swamp.
Intended to be both humorous and convicting, it exposed the truth that we are often what we despise and criticize.
Protests aside, we are Patrick Crusius and Connor Betts.
At least in God’s eyes. And His opinion is the only one that really counts.
Two passages illustrate the point.
You have heard that it was said to those of old; You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28).
Lust is not just a dirty thought – it’s adultery in God’s book.
Whoever hates his brother is a murderer (1 John 3:15).
Hate is not just anger – it’s murder according to God.
If people could see our hearts, they would find out that some of us (many?) are serial adulterers and serial murderers.
And those are the Christians.
Another passage puts us in even deeper. James 2:10 says Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumbles in one point, he is guilty of all. So you haven’t committed mass murder but you’ve lied, or gossiped, or stolen, or ____________ (fill in the blank).
That makes you a lawbreaker and as guilty as Patrick or Connor.
There’s no room for self-righteousness here. We all stand guilty of heinous crimes.
If you don’t like what I’m saying – I don’t either. I see myself as a law-abiding citizen. On top of that, I’m think I’m OK with God.
But I’m not and neither are you. Not in God’s kingdom anyway.
You might be a law-abiding citizen as far as the laws of this country are concerned but you’re not as far as God is concerned. At the Supreme Court of the Universe you would be found a serial sinner.
And that’s why Jesus came so we, each of us, can find forgiveness. If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Forgiven yes. That’s grace.
But we still sinned. We still committed adultery. We still murdered.
We would all be justifiably outraged if Patrick Crusius told the judge he was sorry – he confessed his sin; he asked for forgiveness, and the judge let him go because he was remorseful.
I know that the analogy breaks down (our sin was put on Jesus), but my point is, that is often how we treat our sin. It’s easy to confess our serial adultery (lust); our serial murders (hate) and walk away as if nothing happened.
Because, after all, we confessed it.
Why don’t we feel the same outrage over our sin as we do over their sin?
It’s not that Patrick Crusius and Connor Betts are us. It’s that we are them.
There is no difference between their sin and my sin. Without Jesus, were we to stand before God we would be equally guilty.
And that’s the sobering reality.
My point is that we are outraged by what happened in El Paso and Dayton, but we treat our sin differently. It’s not so bad.
But it is.
We need to be as outraged about our sin as we are about their sin.
It just depends on the perspective – and it’s God’s perspective that counts, not ours.
Stay in the Word