When we come to Christ, when we enter into the faith journey, we incur the wrath of the one who rules this world, the Evil One. It is the intent of the Evil One to take us away from God.
Be on your guard, be watchful. This is the first idea that Paul wants us to reflect upon. There is a good reason for this. When we come to Christ, when we enter into the faith journey, we incur the wrath of the one who rules this world, the Evil One. It is the intent of the Evil One to take us away from God. But because Christ is the embodiment of all that is good, true, and beautiful, which are naturally attractive to our immortal souls, the Evil One does everything to “appear” to be good. He must affect the “appearance” of outward truthfulness in order to hide his lies, and he must put on the “disguises” of beauty in order to distract us from the real beauty of God.
How can we guard ourselves from evil? We must grow in, and stand firm in, our faith. We must strive in every way to remain true to the faith that Christ has called us to. We do this by developing the habits of constant and regular prayer. Prayer brings us into the presence God, it focuses our attention on God in the present moment. Through prayer we continue to develop our growing personal relationship with God. Our faith grows through our continual reading and meditation on the Scriptures as well. Our commitment to worship with the Christian community through our church attendance builds and strengthens our faith in the company of our fellow believers.
When we grow in our faith, we gain the courage of our convictions. Faith gives us the knowledge and the personal experiences that we need to live with real courage. Each time we are challenged and overcome the temptations that come our way we grow in courage. We gain the strengths that are necessary to be able to recognize what is evil and to refuse its phony entreaties to us. We become soldiers for Christ, defending the faith and standing up for those who are crushed by the injustices of the world. By our courageous example, we bring others to Christ.
What is it that shows us as true Christians then? It is our capacity to love one another as he loved us. It is our growing love of God that helps us stay on guard against all that tries to take us away from God. The more we grow in our love for God, the more we are able to look for the good news in others, even when it is hidden behind the façades of bitterness, anger, prejudice, or poverty. The more we know God, the more our faith becomes courageous and strong. The more we love God, the more we are able to do all things for our neighbors, and all those in the greatest need, in and through that same love.
Father, we ask you to increase our faith so that we may be ever more able to be on guard against the temptations of the world. Give us the grace of courage and strength in the face of all temptations and attacks. But most of all, we ask you to increase our ability to love one another in the fashion that you have loved us. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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