Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Right to Fight

Let me be clear from the outset: this is not one of those "Rodney King-like" appeals, pleading that we all just get along. This is a mosaic; we need to know when to fight and when not to fight. After all, if any of you read Wild at Heart you know that a man's gotta fight (pardon my grammar). I mean, just look at King David: 2 Samuel 11:1 says, "Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that . . . David stayed at Jerusalem." Guys, we are princes; we are made to bend a bow of bronze. (2 Sam. 22:35)

It's right to fight for the faith. That is what Jude said, "Contend earnestly for the faith." A century ago a group of men decided that needed to be done. They set forth what we now call the essentials of evangelical faith: the virgin birth, deity, and lordship of Jesus Christ; the efficacious death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus; salvation by grace, through faith in Christ alone; the innerant authority of the Bible as the word of God. Add to that the imminent return of Jesus, the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, the missionary mandate given to the church, the importance of personal evangelism, and the power of prayer. Those (and perhaps a few others I did not mention) are the essentials.

Oh, by the way, back then they called them "The Fundamentals of the Faith." Today we call a fundamentalist anything but right. We allowed the world to influence our use of a perfectly good word, making it pejorative. Forgive me if I do not allow the world to steal perfectly good words and destroy them. Ask God's forgiveness if you think all fundamentalists are crazed lunatics (yes, that is redundant) who only seek to steal your freedoms.

It's right to fight when that fight is spiritual warfare. Paul said we wrestle all kinds of principalities, powers, world forces, and spiritual forces in the heavenlies." - Ephesians 6

I did not learn about spiritual warfare in South America. I learned about it in south Mississippi. I learned plenty about spiritual warfare in south Mississippi. I know we say that we don't see demons behind every bush, but there were days it seemed as though there were as many demons as there were pine trees.

That only increased down here in South America. But regardless of when, where, or how many, the truth still remains that "greater is he that is within us than he that is in the world." Amen to that! Lift the sword of the Spirit and stand firm in Christ's strength!

It's right to fight those social ills that plague us. Abortion is a plague. Gender neutrality is a plague. Those so-called sexual preference rights are plagues on society.

Down here we can add to that list the rampant drinking. That bottle of alcohol is one baby we can toss out with the bath water. Europe may love its booze; you can keep it to yourself. And yes, I can quote all the Bible verses you can throw back at me; so please don't bother.

But it's not right to fight when that fight is motivated by selfish, sensual, and worldly desires. James 4 says, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel." Flesh fights are from the same poisonous tree as worldly wisdom.

That man who slips in front of you in the line of traffic suddenly becomes your enemy; he invaded your space. He took your place in line. That one who buys the last imported soft drink (only those living overseas will relate to this) has suddenly stolen what is "rightfully yours." After all, you wanted a soft drink. Now he took it. It doesn't matter that the can is past date. It doesn't matter that you prefer Pepsi and they only sell Coke. It only matters that someone else got it.

For those North Americans who read the above and shook their heads in dismay, just recall last Christmas. I watched the news videos of my fellow compatriots as they wrestled over dolls, action figures, and stuffed toys. I saw women claw and scratch. And I have been in church business meetings that had plenty of verbal clawing and scratching.

As I look at what is going on in the SBC today, I greatly fear that we have some King Davids who did not go out to battle. We have some princes who cannot or will not bend that bow of bronze. Now they are bored, looking for a place to vent the energy God intended for them to expend against their true enemies.

When my words and actions are detrimental and do not have the ultimate goal of edifying, instructing, protecting, encouraging, and even expanding the citizens of the kingdom of God--as well as expanding the kingdom itself, then my words and actions are wrong. My motives are wrong. My fight is not right.

I defend your right to fight. But make sure your fight is a right fight.


joe kennedy said...

Hey bro, where in south Mississippi did you live? I'm from H-burg, but I lived in Long Beach until I moved to Mobile. (Of course I go to school at NOBTS in New Orleans.) Anyway man, keep it up. Maybe one day I'll get to visit down there. My roommate from school has family in Brazil doing work- in Teresina, last I heard. Peace.

Oh, and you might want to add "word verification" to your blog so you don't get comment spammed.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Hi, Joe,

I am from Laurel. I have a daughter in H-burg and family in Long Beach. Thanks for the tip, too. Come on down; the water's fine!

J. A. Gillmartin said...

"Forgive me if I do not allow the world to steal perfectly good words and destroy them."

Thank you for that, every time I want to be gay, I can't;

One thought: don't you think it would be best to fight if you feel threatened even though you're unsure of who, what, where, when or why?

I would; deciding to error on the side of ignorance rather than stupidity.

Nice post my missionary friend.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Hello Pastor Gillmartin,

Thanks for your good words. I don't know if it is always "best" to fight if you feel threatened, but I do know that my immediate reaction would be to do that. God's call to South America was threatening to my comfort; I fought it for too many weeks. That is one time it is not best to fight.

On the other hand, there are fights that await us, onslaughts from new enemies; in those cases, we will do best to stand ready to fight. Or if we find ourselves knocked on the floor, to get up and fight. As I said, after all, a man's gotta fight.