Red Alert, Shields Up

July 20 – Shields Up, Red Alert

3:202 – Shields Up, Red Alert

#faithbites #faithjourney Alert

Setting

I have always loved Star Trek. Maybe it was because my Dad marched on Burbank Studios in the 60s to keep it on the air or because it allows us to think about strange new worlds, new life, and new civilizations. Whatever the reason, I’ve always loved it.

In Star Trek, whenever an enemy was near or a battle was about to start the Captain would say, “Shields Up, Red Alert”. That would mean everyone to battle stations, weapons ready, shields at full. This was a sign that peace probably wouldn’t happen and there would be destruction and death. Sometimes, it would end without the destruction of a ship or loss of life, but very rarely.

More rarely used, was the Yellow Alert. This is when they went into an unknown situation and put shields up. Weapons weren’t locked but people were in a heightened state, but not ready for battle. This was is a defensive and less threatening position.

You may be wondering why I am talking about this. The reason is when you go into an unknown situation or relationship, what level are you at? Green – all systems normal? Yellow – Defensive but listening? Or Red – ready to be on the offensive? How you enter the encounter has a lot to do with how the encounter will end.

Scripture
  • Acts 20:28-31“So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.29 I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31 Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.
  • 1 John 4:20-21 – If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Reflection

Red Alert, Yellow Alert, or Condition Green? Where are you at? There are plenty of times to be at Red Alert. As we see in Acts, there are false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and those among us who distort the truth. We should defend God’s word and Jesus’s teachings against them. That doesn’t mean that we go into all circumstances thinking that someone is evil, a wolf, or against God. It is their actions that will tell us how prepared we need to be. If we are true in faith, we will know how to prepare for those encounters.

At the same time, as we see in 1 John, we are to love our brothers (and sisters) as God loves us. This means to be open and kind, while still holding fast to our beliefs. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. That being said, a yellow alert status may be best for handling those unknown situations. We defend but do not attack. 

I’ve used a lot of metaphors here. In a nutshell, it breaks down to this. If we are on the offensive, we can misinterpret and ruin opportunities for relationship building. This doesn’t mean we are passive in our faith, rather we are listening to what someone is saying, being empathetic to their experiences, and sharing the love of Christ. So in Star Trek parlance, we are more explorers than warriors. Are you willing to go on your next mission without shields up and weapons hot? 

Challenge

When you see something that you don’t agree with, rather than going on the offensive, seek understanding. Find out what the person really means, why they are saying what they are saying, and try to find common ground. If there isn’t common ground, is this a time to drop it and move on, or is it a time to be defensive and assertive in your faith? It’s a tough challenge for sure, but one we can accomplish with the help of God. 

Prayer

Father God, you have made many of your children warriors of Christ. We will fight and defend your Word and your people. Let us use the most appropriate of our gifts for each situation. Help us not to go on the offensive when an open heart is needed. Let us know when just being on the defensive is needed. When a Red Alert is needed, guide us, and help us to be the best servants we can be. In all things, when we get this wrong, forgive us and help us to be better. In your great name, Amen.

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