Slightly Obsessed #214: Friendly Fire

We love, because He first loved us.  If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

– 1 John 4:19-20

In 1788, the Austrians were at war with Turkey.

Determined to control the Danube River, about 100,000 Austrian soldiers set up camp near Karansebes. The Austrian army was comprised of troops who were German, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian, and Polish, so communication among the men was not good, to say the least.

Scouts were sent out to search for Turks but ran into some gypsies instead and brought back liquor to the camp. As the men got increasingly drunk, they became more and more agitated. The party deteriorated into a brawl, and at that point, someone shouted that the Turks were attacking.

Drunk and unprepared for battle, many men simply fled. In the confusion and unable to understand each other, the soldiers mistook the defectors for the Turks and began firing at them. Soon 10,000 soldiers lay wounded or dead at the hand of their comrades.

Two days later, the Turks showed up and captured the city, bewildered by the carnage but happy with the ease with which they overtook their enemies.

While the veracity of this battle is disputed by some historians, the message of the story is clear:  An army that doesn’t communicate and treats each other like the enemy is sure to lose the battle.

It’s not easy to stay on track, though, is it? In real life, battle lines are not always clear. Sometimes, a real or imagined blow from an unexpected source sends us reeling. Other times, the emotion and pain from our own struggles cloud our discernment, and we lash out blindly, taking out an innocent comrade with our words.

Nothing wounds deeper than an unprovoked attack from someone we love.

Debate over doctrine is one of the greatest tricks of the enemy to get us fighting among ourselves. Although it is crucial to contend for the faith, we swing the two-edged sword of the Word of God at our own peril if we aim it at a fellow soldier. God commands us to instruct others in gentleness and humility.

We live in a crucial period in history. Satan is getting bolder, and our faith is being tested on many levels. The wounded lie strewn across the battlefield of broken lives and torn hearts. Now, more than ever, it’s time to take stock of what we are fighting for and how we can support each other in the heat of battle.

We must communicate effectively, treat others with tenderness, and forgive quickly. It is our duty to bind up the wounds of our fellow soldiers and leave no one behind.

This Memorial Day, we thank those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their homes, families, and nation. May we learn the lessons they have taught us.

 

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