By Joe Leavell
Yes, I’m completely serious. We don’t have enough fighting today. We’re too passive and it needs to change. We need to roll up our sleeves and gear up for a massive brawl.
While not to undermine the importance of voting and the liberties we enjoy in this country, too many Christians, myself included, are too pre-occupied over politics today to stomach a fight like this. We’ve been so busy worrying about national elections that we have forgotten something far more important like this kind of a battle.
If not politics, you’ll find many groups of believers busy bickering over juicy gossip or trolling the comments on social media. They’re squabbling over where you find government overreach or arguing over what constitutes a conspiracy.
Rather than digging in for this kind of fight, husbands and wives are pre-occupied with their irritations with one another, who is going to do the dishes, and why won’t he clean up his clothes on his side of the bed? The back and forth gets more and more toxic and personal until the strife becomes almost too much to bear.
Parents are finding themselves embattled with their children over screen time, clothing options, chores, and barely even notice that there is another fight that they’ve totally neglected.
Churches themselves are busy with internal strife, personal disputes, and people wrangling for their own preferences. If they don’t have enough conflict within their own church, rather than remember the actual fight, they’d rather start hurling some truth bombs towards the neighboring church down the street that doesn’t do it quite the same.
Everywhere you look there is conflict and strife. Yet too many believers are so busy with arguing that we’re too exhausted for the war.
It’s time to put down our proverbial swords so we can finally put our hearts into the fight.
A Different Kind of Battle
In 1 Timothy 6:12 Paul is talking to his young protégé Timothy and sharing various instructions. Here he commands Timothy to,
“Fight the good fight…”
We all got this message loud and clear, didn’t we?! We all love a good scuffle and are ready to obey! Where will it be? Facebook? Twitter? The church parking lot? With my kids at the dinner table? With the jerk who cut me off in traffic? Put me in coach! I’m ready!
But Paul hadn’t finished his sentence. He simply says,
“Fight the good fight of the faith.”
Believers, we have become quite skilled at fighting in the wrong war. Rather than fighting for the faith we’ve taken our energy and have poured it into lesser fights over disputable matters to the place where we forget what the war is all about. All that energy and skill that we’ve accumulated to fight in the flesh for our own desires and wants must be laid down at the foot of the cross.
The direness of the situation is that when we exhaust ourselves fighting for the temporal, the eternal begins to fade from our view to the point that we forget that we as believers are in a real war of the ages for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Believers, it’s time to take up our cross and fight the good fight of the faith.
What Does this Fight Look Like?
As a mere sampling, this fight means that rather than just bickering over politics, we look for openings to love our enemies and pray for those who might try to persecute us. Our goal is not simply “winning” an election but that, through us, others would see Jesus. Our desire is for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven and that all will know that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
This battle remembers that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, so your spouse is not your enemy – Satan is. Rather than fighting against your spouse, fight FOR your spouse against the forces of darkness that seeks only to destroy the beautiful gift that God has given you as a picture of the Gospel.
This fight looks a lot less like bickering, backbiting, and slander against each other, and a lot more like guarding our tongues, edifying in our words, and giving grace as we recognize that we are on the same side against a different enemy. This means we speak comfort to the downtrodden and admonish each other towards Christ.
This is a war for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that seeks to answer Jesus’ prayer for believers to reflect the unity of the Godhead.
We know we are engaging in this fight when we go to bed exhausted from fasting and prayer for our family, friends, neighbors, and nation, remembering Christ’s sweat drops of blood in prayer on our behalf.
Joining in this battle means that the competition we see is who can outdo one another in showing honor and devotion. We look for opportunities to bear one another’s burdens and to be a friend to those who need a listening ear and a hug, echoing our Good Shepherd that protects and sticks closer than a brother.
Rather than maneuvering for opportunities to lust, this is a battle for holiness and purity that funds organizations that help women escape the sex industry as a reminder of the freedom we have found through the cross!
When we see a need, rather than hoarding our resources, we look for opportunities fire off rounds of blessing through meeting tangible needs. How much can we load down others with our kindness and generosity echoing how God made us joint heirs with Jesus?
Instead of fighting to simply remind our teenager who is boss, this is a war that patiently seeks to understand their young heart, remembering that we have a God who understands our frame and our weaknesses.
Fighting in this battle means that we look for ways to give God glory and praise and not ourselves. We look for meaningful ways for His name to increase and for our name to decrease. This is a conflict for humility and anonymity as a reflection of God’s suffering servant who washed His disciples’ feet and commanded us to serve one another.
This is a fight where churches work together for the cause of Christ. Together they bless their communities so that people would see our light shining bright in a dark world through our good works, and give glory to our Father in Heaven.
I hope you’re starting to get the general idea.
The Battle is Already Won
This battle is different than what we seem obsessed with as critical today. Those are the kinds of fights that are never truly won. The battle of the faith, however, is a battle that has eternally been won because Christ has conquered all. It may sound daunting when you are tired, frustrated, or scared. Yet through Christ’s finished work on the cross, our enemy already cowers in defeat! Our role in this war is to follow our Captain into the victory He has already achieved.
We need a lot more of this kind of fighting! Are you in?
For Further Study:
War of Words – By Paul Tripp
If You Bite & Devour One Another – By Alexander Strauch