Now, I believe that all truth is God's truth, so we can find God's hand outside of the Bible such as science or philosophy as long as those disciplines don't contradict what God has told us in Scripture. We know we have an enemy who is a great deceiver, who would appeal to our prideful understanding and use it to set up a barrier between ourselves and God. Because of this, we need to carefully seek the direction of the Holy Spirit in all learning, prayerfully asking for God to guide us.
As a former naval officer as well as someone who has dabbled in the martial arts, I've been exposed to some different teachings about warfare. One that rings true with me are the five strategies. We often hear them referred to as elements, but they are really just symbolic of a fighting strategy, a mnemonic for assessing the right form of response.
There's Earth, when you are strong enough to take a beating. It's like turning the other cheek and being able to endure an offense. And then there's Air, when you are neither changing the environment nor being impacted by it. I liken Air to being in the world but not of it, where we observe without interfering and where we are not changed by our environment. There is a time and place for this strategy, especially when we just need observe and gather more information before taking a stance.
When I first heard of the 5 elements, I had often wondered why Air and Wind were considered separate, but it makes complete sense in the context of a martial strategy. If Air is essentially avoidance, Wind attempts to the influence environment. Wind is a powerful force over time, like the power of the spoken word, that can build strength and wear down the strongest rocks. Water is similar to wind and more forceful. Much happens beneath the surface of Water, and just as Wind and waves are often seen together, so can Wind and Water be applied together to influence a societal environment while also changing it behind the scenes.
Last of the five strategies is Fire. Fire is passionate and destructive. Fire is used to fight fires, and once you have chosen this strategy, it is difficult to come back from that path. As a midshipman, I learned that war has the tendency for the absolute, meaning that the intensity builds and retaliations escalate. When we think of fighting, physically fighting, Fire is the strategy that has been selected.
Some people believe that physical violence is the greatest evil, and war should be avoided at all costs. But it is sometimes a useful tool to hold back tyranny, and it is always a last resort. Imagine if no one had opposed Hitler. Passivity can allow a greater evil to grow in power and secure a position that is not easily overthrown. Edmond Burke was correct in saying that the only thing evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Looking at this polarized world, I wonder how close we've come to the point where Fire is the appropriate strategy. Two sides, claiming conflicting "facts", making it hard to discern what should be believed. The Air strategy would say: get more information. The conflicting facts can't both be true. The truth is by its very nature exclusive. It's possible that both sides are lying, but if that were the case, wouldn't we have a "middle ground' that consistently points out the lies of both polar opposites? No, it seems clear that one side has embraced lies as the Wind and Water to drive an agenda. It seems clear to me which side has no respect God or moral integrity, focused only on a lawless pursuit of agenda. Is it clear to you yet?
I had to go back to How to Fight to consider when to fight. When religious liberty and freedom of speech are taken away, then civil discourse can no longer oppose the threat of tyranny, and the only strategy left is Fire. When the other strategies are ineffective in opposing evil, then we have reached the last resort. When we are no longer strong enough to take a beating (Earth strategy), when observing and waiting is insufficient and inappropriate (Air strategy), and when the latency of Wind and Water strategies renders them ineffective in opposing tyranny, then Fire is the only strategy left. We have not reached that point yet, but I am concerned we are very close.
When Jesus sent His disciples out, it was as sheep among wolves. He told them in Matthew 10:16 to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. It is the wisdom of snakes to avoid physical confrontation, to evade detection, position and strike quickly only when left no other choice.