The Hamas terrorist attack that triggered the war with Israel last month has had the effect on many comfortable, suburban Americans that a sewage leak has on the owner of a posh home in a gated subdivision. The shock and dismay of the wealthy suburbanite as he walks into his downstairs theater room to find a filthy black sludge soaking through the plush white carpet is—on an exponentially smaller scale—similar to the disgust so many of us felt upon hearing the news of the Massacre perpetrated on Israelis by Muslim terrorists on October 7th. We turned on the news one morning and were aghast at the vileness that was suddenly bubbling up into our ostensibly safe, clean, opulent world. (I refer here only to those of us who heard about the massacre from afar whose experience is not comparable with the victims who suffered it.)
For Christians, this is an important reminder. Evil forces are always flowing beneath and behind our comfortable, entertainment-saturated environment. In Israel a few weeks ago, the pipe burst, so to speak, and the slimy sewage of Hamas oozed out into the open air. But the most frightening evil is not always the most dangerous. Remember the words of Christ: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28).
The terrorists killed many bodies, but we should be more terrified by things like “sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21)—all of which can kill the soul.
The unrecognized dangers are the biggest threat because they are unrecognized. The biggest dangers are not like a leaking sewer pipe, but more like a carbon monoxide leak, silently spreading toxic fumes into our spiritual house while we go about our daily lives.
While Americans should be deeply grateful that we don’t live next door to a rogue nation led by prowling terrorists, we should nonetheless constantly know, “[our] adversary the devil [who] prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) The temptations to prioritize myself at the expense of others, to look at another person lustfully, to gossip and slander, these are always crouching outside my door no matter how safe my place in the world may be, and these can do much more harm to my soul—that is to me—than any terrorist can do to my body.
Mike Mitchell holds an MA in theological studies from Asbury Seminary and a PhD in theology from Liverpool Hope University. He lives in the Mountain West with his wife and their five children. Mike also regularly writes for his Substack page at mitchell435.substack.com.