Fight or Journey - Part One
What’s your life? Fight or Journey? No contest, right? It’s got to be Journey.
Ah-ah, no mixing the two. No ‘well, what about a fight while I’m on my journey?’ The point about the metaphor is that you have to choose one. Just one. Fight or Journey.
First, some reasons why we avoid the idea of Fight.
Well, it involves violence and most of us are not physically violent. We might engage in arguments – let’s call them fights – but for the most part, we avoid physical violence. Very understandable. I love Elton John’s Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting, but I’m not familiar with that kind of scene. Be thankful you don’t live in the Middle Ages, where your lifespan would probably have been determined by your physical ability with sword or bow.
Second, a fight has winners and losers and this is anathema to people who are committed to community. A community – the church – is surely about downplaying conflict and highlighting shared values. Furthermore, who wants to think of life in terms of what you’re against? Fighting is so . . . unpleasant.
With me so far? Hope so.
What’s the attraction of the journey? Well, for one, it has great antecedents. Pilgrim’s Progress, for example. The life of faith has to do with progress. We’re moving closer to God. Movement is surely a journey. We feel this inside instinctively. Not surprising, then, that ‘journey’ is a well-worn theme in art and culture. Dante’s Divine Comedy (Hell, Purgatory and Paradise) is the archetype of the Christian journey, second to none in its depiction of the soul’s progress towards God (even given some of its mistaken theology).
And then there’s the depiction of journey in the Old Testament. From Abe to Zerubbabel, the Israelites are on the move. There is almost no OT figure who doesn’t travel long distances. They may be seeking to stay still, but they don’t do it. They move and as they move, they learn and make mistakes and more importantly, we learn about God’s character in the process of their journeying.
New Testament. More movement. Jesus, the itinerant preacher. Luke emphasizes Christ’s decision to travel to Jerusalem (Luke 9.51) as a high point of his gospel. Indeed, Luke-Acts uses ‘journey’ as its dominant motif. Not only this, but some of the most famous parables include journeys. The Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son both use journeys as metaphors into which spiritual truths are poured. You could also add The Parable of the Tenants, when the King leaves and sends his son back to his land.
Finally, St. Paul’s missionary journeys form an essential part of God’s message about mission. All believers are called to ‘go.’ We’re all to journey and while we go, we will experience the presence of the Spirit, who is with his journeying believers. A strong metaphor for our spiritual journey towards God, surely.
So, which one should we favour? If we had to choose. Which one aligns most closely with Scripture?
It’s a close call, but I’m going to make a controversial case for Fight.
But not this week. My case for Fight comes next time. This week, we’re releasing the first of a series of articles on Divorce by Neil Powell, the City of London Director for City to City U.K. and a chair of City to City Europe, a church planting organisation . They are excellent. Click here for the first one entitled ‘What does God think of divorce?’