What’s your life? Fight or Journey? On March 5, I took a look at Journey.
Today, it’s Fight. In spite of its difficulties, I believe Fight is a more dominant biblical theme than Journey. For good reasons.
First exhibit: The Old Testament. For reasons that reside deep inside the mind of God, he chose to form a nation and then set that nation on collision course with other nations. You can’t get away from this truth. The Israelites fought pretty much every group with an ‘–ite’ on the end of its name. It is true that they were sometimes condemned for such behaviour, but on dozens of occasions, they are commanded by God to go and slay their enemies. Yes, commanded. God’s use of warfare to achieve his ends must, of course, be placed within the context of his redemptive purposes, but he surely does not avoid warfare as a means to an end. Fighting, a violent physical activity, and yes, a symptom of our fallenness, is used by God as a tool in his hands to achieve his ends.
Second and most important exhibit: The gospels. The gospels present Christ in direct opposition to the Devil. His temptation in the desert, followed by his myriad healings and exorcisms bring him into conflict with his Opposition, the prince of the air. Furthermore, he is opposed constantly by people who want to kill him. In addition, he frames his teaching in terms of ‘with me or against me.’ Even in the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are you when you are persecuted ‘in my name.’ That’s Fight. With me or against me. You must pick a side. No fence-sitting permitted.
But the crucial one must be the highpoint of history, when the Son of God hung upon a cross, died and was then resurrected. This act is represented as a triumph. A victory over sin, death and Satan. It is Fight which lies at the very heart of the Christian faith. A fight which God wins and into which he calls us.
It is, of course, tragic that European Christian leaders and Popes thought that capturing Jerusalem or fighting each other on behalf of God was a correct interpretation of Scripture. They were wrong. The Fight is internal – for purity – and yet it is also focused outwards.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.…
I wonder if you have attended churches where the dominant idea was ‘fighting the devil.” I have. Every prayer meeting was a duel with the devil. Off we went, ‘taking the land,’ ‘declaring spiritual truths to each other and to spiritual forces.’ It can get tiring after a while. I’m bound to say, however, that when the sense of Fight is absent, a church can lose its confidence.
And it can lose its way.
Ask yourself as you look out over your congregation on a Sunday morning: ‘Do we look like an army? Do we live like people who are in a fight for the Kingdom of God, praying with fervour for the glory of God to be revealed and for his kingdom to come?’
I love these lyrics from Our God Reigns by Delirious:
Yes he reigns, yes you reign, yes you reign,
For there is only one true God,
But we've lost the reins on this world,
Forgive us all, forgive us please,
As we fight for this broken world on our knees.
As we fight for this broken world on our knees. What passion! What drive!
I favour Fight right now, because we need it more. In hospitals around the land, our health care professionals are fighting a virus which is killing people. Christians are bonding together in prayer, to pray for God’s Kingdom to come and within that idea is Fight. Fight against the virus and against an enemy who seeks to discourage us and wear us down. Even to divide us.
So, in prayer, we need to fight for those we love and those in need. But we also need to stand boldly on the name of our Saviour, whose victory cry still rings out. That’s why the metaphor, Fight, is far more valuable right now than Journey (though both have their place).
Let us fight on our knees because we know that our God is already victorious.
This week, we’re releasing the second article on Divorce by Neil Powell, the City London Director for City to City U.K. and a chair of City to City Europe, a church planting organisation . Click here for 'Is a Christian permitted to divorce an abusive spouse?'