No one loves their enemies like the church, but perhaps not in the way that Christ enjoined. To be more precise, the church loves having enemies. The call to resist the enemies of God and His church is a much availed strategy in church history. No enemy is so convenient as the ill defined forces of evil supposedly arrayed against the church.
In the parlance of theology “the world” is the enemy that must be opposed and from which Christians must distinguish themselves. Just who or what is “the world” against which the church so valiantly struggles? Is it everyone who does not claim to be a Christian? Is it my un-churched neighbor, my alcoholic family member, or my occasionally profane co-worker? Just who am I supposed to shun and resist? Is it some disembodied power which somehow can effectively challenge the will of God? If the conflict is so important, can anyone really point out the true enemy?
No tenet of orthodoxy is so vital to its influence as that defining the titanic, history long struggle between the forces of good and evil. Using this call to arms, the church has always enjoyed a largely unchallenged power over the general populace. In addition, this theological pillar has served well to ally the institutional church with the secular government in a highly symbiotic relationship throughout its history.
Most would probably conclude that everything in life is not as it should be, and there must be a reason. The church is quick to provide that reason. The forces of evil have subverted the creation, overruling the will of God. Only by constant vigilance and resistance can righteous men regain the intended utopia of the original creation. In this scenario, the institutional church, in cooperation with the civilian government, becomes the primary instrument which marshals the resources and organizes the struggle. The resulting exercise in power and prestige is a heady experience. Nothing expands the hat size like the belief that one advances the cause of mankind while enjoying the blessings of general approbation
Yes, the Bible depicts various periods of conflict, but none of these apply to our spiritual state on this side of Christ. To continue to promote conflict and struggle as the way to righteousness is to deny the promise of peace and joy inherent in Christ’s message. There is no joy in conflict, and by its very definition conflict is the absence of peace. Either Christ and His completed work inaugurated a change, or Christ died in vain. We have the Apostle Paul’s own words to vouch for that fact. A continuing struggle between God and Satan, between good and evil, pulls mankind backward into the preparatory relationship depicted under the Old Covenant.