The Avengers* are supposed to be “earth’s mightiest heroes.” When they first come together, you might think their mightiest talents lie in irritating and provoking each other, as they practice mostly verbal battles among themselves. In one scene, Iron Man and Captain America are pushing each other to the limit and “Cap” goads Iron Man by telling him to put his suit on so they can fight each other. Immediately after taunting, “Put on the suit,” an explosion occurs near them, throwing them across the room. In that instant, they realize they have a common enemy and they immediately become united. Cap once again says, “Put on the suit.” But this is no longer a taunt – it is a plea for Iron Man to arm himself and fight alongside his fellow hero against the enemy. Amazing how a common threat can pull people together, isn’t it?
I used this scene to demonstrate to my sons how they should encourage each other instead of taunting and irritating each other, because the truth is that they have a common enemy. He may not make himself known quite so dramatically in our everyday lives. He can be quite stealth. So far, we have not had any bombs exploding in our apartment. But our enemy wants to sow seeds of discord and anger in our home and distract us from appreciating the gift of each other. And we so easily forget his presence and play along with his games. We need to remind ourselves of Paul’s teaching in Galatians 5:13-15, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
This lesson surfaced again today as we studied current events. Our brother in Christ, Pastor Saeed Abedini, is a 33-year-old American citizen who is imprisoned in the worst prison in Iran. He is horribly mistreated, endures long periods in solitary confinement, and his frequent beatings have now likely caused internal bleeding—yet he is denied any medical attention. He has been sentenced to eight years in Evin prison. Without a miracle from the Lord, it seems unlikely he could endure such treatment and neglect for that long.
In spite of the horror around him, Saeed rejoices that the body of Christ has come to see a common enemy, and they are uniting against that enemy. Saeed was able to get the following message out to his family: “I heard that the persecution, my arrest and imprisonment has united churches from different denominations, from different cities and countries, that would never come together because of their differences. You don’t know how happy I was in the Lord and rejoiced knowing that in my chains the body of Christ has chained together and is brought to action and prayer.” He signed the letter, “With many thanks for your continued and faithful prayers, Servant of our Lord in chains for Jesus Christ, Saeed.”
We have reason to rejoice with Pastor Saeed. As he says, there are some churches that will not come together except in adversity. It is sad that this is true of the body of Christ. As we come together in this heartbreaking situation and pray for Saeed’s release from prison, may we also commit to stay united and continue to fight together for right and for our Lord, instead of giving glory to our enemy by sowing conflict with each other.
Please do pray for Pastor Saeed. And please pray for unity in the body. If each one of us proclaims, “Let there be peace [in the body of Christ] and let it begin with me,” imagine the difference it could make. If we stop wasting time on petty differences and start fighting together in prayer against the enemy of our souls, we may be surprised at what miracles God allows in our lives.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8. I don’t want to be devoured, and I don’t want anyone else to be either. Put on the suit, brothers and sisters, and let’s stand together.
*As God’s name is taken in vain in this movie, I only recommend watching it on a Clearplay DVD player.
Unity picture taken from International Churches of Christ (ICOC) Co-operation Churches website http://www.icoc.org.