Fight the good fight of 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.

1 Timothy 6: 12

 

Unfortunately, many people think that accepting Jesus means that all of the struggles and hardships of this life should come to an end. This sets people up for great disappointment, and it also creates a badly mistaken expectation for what it means to live as a follower of Christ in our world. They start expecting that Jesus will cure all of the ills of body and spirit and bring about happiness, peace, and even prosperity in the process of working His magic. This is not the reality that the early church experienced, and it is certainly not what any of those early leaders of the church expressed to us as what we should look forward to as a mark of faithfulness in our living out Christ’s direction for us. Paul’s use of the word fight here is a sign of exactly what he knew about the way that a life of submission to the Lord would look.

 

A life that is lived out in obedience to God is a life that is conducted in the center of a hostile field of contest. This is a place that more resembles the tortured earth of the front-line trenches that devoured the earth during World War I than it does our usual images of the idyllic and peaceful Eden of our hopes and dreams. Every day involves a struggle with forces of evil that are desperately attempting to demonstrate their control and dominance over all of Creation when they, in fact, have already been defeated by God in the person of Jesus and in the hour of His resurrection from the cross’ tomb. These are days when Jesus leads us into battle, and this fight is one that is being conducted for the souls of people and for the redemption of Creation.

 

When Paul speaks of this struggle, he also speaks in terms of making a good confession in the presence of many witnesses. This is a part of the means and the method that our Lord is calling upon us to use in accomplishing His purposes, and this idea of confession is much larger than the words that we speak. It involves the totality of the life that is lived out in view of the rest of the world and it also encompasses the most personal and private moments of our days. The confession of faith that Christ desires for His people to make includes such things as the attitudes that we hold toward our possessions, the way that we use our finances, caring for the weak and the oppressed, and the thoughts that we have about others. Confessing Christ is not going to be comfortable or easy, and it will inevitably lead us into a place of conflict with other people and with the systems and structures of our world. However, making a good and continuous confession of Christ in all aspects of life is the most powerful weapon that we have been given by Christ to use in engaging in the fight into which He leads us.

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