With all the bumper stickers that clamor for peace, sometimes it’s easy to forget that we have turned fighting into a form of entertainment. Whether it’s boxing matches or UFC, Survivor or Family Feud, there are an abundance of broadcasted competitive challenges that pit one group against another. Even within these challenges some of the most talked about incidents aren’t what happens in the field of play, but are the personal disagreements that occur as the competition rages on.
Perhaps because fights have become entertainment, we forget that not all fights are created equal. We are encouraged to “stick up for ourselves,” and to “fight for what’s ours,” without remembering that not everything is worth fighting for. Children learn this at a young age as they watch their parents argue with the umpire at a Little League game, or as mom and dad disagree with a teacher’s grading policy. It seems like any slight, any inconvenience – whether it’s from a “stolen” parking lot space or a desired Christmas gift – is worth a fight.
The local church is not immune to such proclivities. Whether it’s a disagreement over how loud the band plays (or whether there should be a band at all), the way in which a pastor delivers their sermon, or even the manner in which the building is decorated, there is a tendency to think that every difference of opinion is worth a “discussion.” We are inclined to think of the church as “ours” and so we fight for the way we think it should be.
Scripture, however, tells us to focus on a different kind of fight. I Timothy 6:12 contains the instructions to ” Fight the good fight” but rarely do we quote the rest of that passage. It states:
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
The preceding verse clarifies more when it states:
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
In other words, what we are to be fighting the good fight. Not the “personal” one or the “easy” one, but the good one. And what characterizes the good fight? It isn’t preferences or personal desires. First, it’s the fight of faith – one that is centered on our relationship with God. Secondly, it keeps eternity in view – fighting not for what’s temporal but what will last. Additionally, it is characterized by a pursuit of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness. The good fight is the one that puts Christ on display to all the witnesses that have heard our confession of Christ. The good fight is one that honors God.
In other words – we shouldn’t be fighting for the things that seem to matter in this life – we should be fighting for the things that will matter in eternity. And as we do so, the manner in which we fight should bring glory to our Lord.