Having Strong Enemies is a Blessing.

Rapper Nipsey Hussle, born Ermias Davidson Asghedom, was shot to death outside a clothing store that he owned in Los Angeles. As I’m a fifty-something white midwesterner, it’s not all that shocking that I had never heard of this man until his violent death splashed him onto the news. Listening to a bit of his music this morning, I determined that it was, like most hip hop, not really my thing. That’s okay. His fans probably wouldn’t see in Doc Watson what I do. Different strokes and all that.

From all I can gather, this man was beloved within his community and in the wider world. People from the area, included in a CNN report on the crime, spoke of him as more than just a celebrity.

What caught my attention about Nipsey Hussle today was that last tweet that he sent out.

There’s something to be said for that, although I’m not sure what was meant by the statement. It’s kind of a cliché amongst Christians that if Satan isn’t bothering you, then maybe you’re not really bothering him either. Therefore, if he’s a dedicated enemy, then you must be doing something to rile him up. In that case, “Having strong enemies is a blessing.” I’m pretty doubtful that this was what Nipsey Hussle had in mind.

But here’s the reality of the matter. This man, whatever his positive and negative qualities, had a very strong enemy, the enemy that all flesh shares together: death. Ever since Genesis 3, death has been the ultimate enemy, the strongest enemy of all humans. Death is one of the four horsemen. It comes for absolutely every person.

Death comes for some more quickly, more savagely than for others. In Nipsey Hussle’s area, the level of violence is far higher than in the decidedly suburban area where I live. We’d be callous beyond excuse to act like issues such as crime, poverty, racism, and disease don’t treat some people differently than others. But regardless of who you are, death comes for you.

That’s what makes the work, accomplished already but yet to be fully consummated, of Jesus Christ so powerful. Unlike anyone, prophet, priest, or king, rapper, actor, or cop, Jesus has set the wheels in motion that will, eventually, put an end to death. Paul sums it up in a simple but profound claim:

The last enemy to be abolished is death.–1 Corinthians 15:26

In the same chapter of 1 Corinthians, he goes into more detail on the matter.

When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, death, is your victory?
Where, death, is your sting?–1 Corinthians 15:54-55

To have strong enemies might arguably be a blessing, but it is even more of a blessing when we have a strong Friend who is capable and willing of putting our greatest, our most inescapable enemy to rout.

A Solid Footstool (Hebrews 1:13-14)

To which of the angels did God ever say,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet”?
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:13-14)

Last night, Irene the turkey met her end. Having lost her mate, Earl, to our dinner table last fall, Irene had fallen in among the chickens and seemed happy to lead a chicken-esque life. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I realized she begun laying eggs again. In the past day or two, it seems, she had completed her clutch and began to sit on them. With Earl out of the picture, I seriously doubt those eggs would ever have hatched unless an adventurous wild turkey had made his way into the chicken yard. The question is moot now.

Cassie, our Great Pyrenees, apparently intervened in the attack but could not stop Irene from being hauled off into the night by, presumably, coyotes. We were left with a flurry of brown feathers and some 10 eggs. We assume it was Cassie who brought the eggs down to the house. I don’t imagine the coyotes were quite that responsible.

Cassie is wonderful as a guard dog. She largely hears and warns off all of the enemies to our livestock. Last night, however, proved that she cannot stop all of the enemies.

Modern life involves attempting to insulate ourselves from as many of our enemies as possible. To this end, we lock doors, pay for insurance policies, eat properly, and fasten seatbelts, yet day after day demonstrates that not all enemies can be stopped. The final enemy, death, can be delayed but has not been beaten by human means.

But through Christ, all of Christ’s enemies, who are also the enemies of man, have been or will be vanquished. Hunger, illness, war, and death will provide the legs for that footstool of enemies. Jesus will put his feet up and invite us to join in the restful comfort. As much as I appreciate Cassie the guard dog, I’ll opt for God’s enemy plan instead.