Faith for the fight


How do we view the Christian life? What does it really mean to follow Christ? We would all admit that we live in a very pleasure-oriented, self-seeking society. This attitude can overflow into our understanding of Christianity. Do we teach people becoming Christians that following Jesus means to be rescued from all worldly troubles? Or that Christianity is a gateway to material prosperity? Or that it is a guarantee of protection? If so, we will not have a framework for understanding spiritual warfare when it occurs. But what if we take the Bible seriously in its portrayal of the Christian life as a battle in which we besiege the powers of darkness, fight against them and defeat them? In this case, we will have some expectations in place: -a battle presumes an opposing power; -this opposition will do some damage to us; -the moment this damage occurs is the critical point where we must trust God and hold fast our position; -no matter what the ups and downs of the battle, God guarantees ultimate victory.

If, on the other hand, we present the Christian life in terms of benefits and protection, the result — paradoxically — will be fear. Why? Because when trouble comes, we will have no frame of reference to understand or cope with it. Why is this happening when we thought God would protect us? This is the downfall of much teaching on faith. If faith is understood as trusting God that He will keep us from financial, physical and emotional hardships, we will have no means of dealing with those situations when they inevitably arise — and we will find ourselves in confusion and even disillusionment in our relationship with the Lord. But if we present the Christian life in terms of a battle which we fight offensively, the result will be peace — albeit peace in the midst of a storm. Why? Because:

-we have anticipated the attack of the enemy; -we are trusting God to keep us in it; -we see God as sovereign over it; He has warned us in advance that attack will come, but He promises to keep us in it and bring us through it.

Revelation repeatedly presents the Christian life as one of overcoming — which presumes we have things to overcome, but that, by God’s grace and empowering, we will do so. And when we have fought the battle, we will never regret doing what He called us to do.