The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Fight the good fight of the faith.” (I Timothy 6:12) He wanted this young pastor to live a life of purity, to be “…without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Timothy 6:14)
Some people will try to hurt us. They represent the world and its forces which are hostile to God. The Bible reminds us that living one’s life for the Lord is a battle. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) Keeping it clear who the enemy is will be difficult. Appropriately responding to the human beings who hurt us is a great challenge. One thing that will help us is remembering who we are.
Ben Patterson once wrote: “Don’t take it personally. We’re in a war. When a soldier gets shot at, he doesn’t get his feelings hurt. He isn’t plagued by self doubt. He doesn’t wonder if this is the kind of work he is cut out for. He doesn’t peer over the edge of his foxhole and shout back, ‘Was it something I said?’ Getting shot at just goes with the territory. Don’t take it personally.”
As God’s soldiers in his army, what can we do?
We can pray. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies, and while on the cross he taught us with the words, “‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:34)
We can also stay focused on our calling, our purpose. One of the best examples of this was in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color line in major league baseball. In the movie, 42, Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey wanted Jackie to avoid retaliation against those who made racial overtures against him. Jackie questioned his leader by asking him, “You want a player that doesn’t have the guts to fight back?” “No. No.” replied Rickey. “I want a player who has the guts not to fight back. People aren’t going to like this. They’re going to do anything to get you to react. Follow a curse with a curse and they’ll hear only yours. Follow a blow with a blow and they’ll say the Negro lost his temper; that the Negro does not belong. Your enemy will be out in force and you cannot meet him on his own low ground. We win with hitting, running, fielding—only that. We win only if the world is convinced of two things: That you are a fine gentleman, and a great ball player. Like our Savior, you’re got to have the guts to turn the other cheek. Can you do it?” Robinson replied, “You give me a uniform; you give me a number on my back; and I’ll give you the guts.” We all know that’s what Jackie did.
As followers of Jesus, let’s pray, and live courageously. We’re soldiers in the army of God.
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com