“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
“When people speak of great men, they think of men like Napoleon – men of violence. Rarely do they think of peaceful men. But contrast the reception they will receive when they return home from their battles. Napoleon will arrive in pomp and in power, a man who’s achieved the very summit of earthly ambition. And yet his dreams will be haunted by the oppressions of war. William Wilberforce, however, will return to his family, lay his head on his pillow and remember: the slave trade is no more.” – Lord Charles Fox, the movie “Amazing Grace”
On Sunday, I’ll be talking about finishing the race. For a moment, though, I want to reflect on fighting the good fight.
Notice Paul’s words: he didn’t fight a fight or the fight, he fought the good fight. And not only did he fight the good fight, he fought the good fight well. He did not fight with stones or swords. He had tried that once before, resulting in a literal come-to-Jesus moment where the Lord asked Paul, “Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). No, the only “weapon” that Paul used in his good fight was Christ, and Him crucified, a “weapon” that Paul readily admitted seemed to be foolish and ineffective choice (1 Corinthians 1:23).
Throughout time, Christian faith has been called weak and a crutch and other derogatory names that characterize our faith as a salve for weak losers. In response, Christians have sometimes tried to “John Wayne” up our faith. I’ve seen the strong guys rip up the phone books and heard the pastor proclaim he had his pistol with him in the pulpit. Yet I am left to ask this question: why is our greatest missionary a man who put down the weapons of the world and found power in a crucified Lord? Why is that men like William Wilberforce and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Christian men of peace, have brought about some of the most lasting change the world has ever seen?
There is a good fight to be fought. It is fought not to prove we are right or they are wrong. It is fought not to devastate or annihilate but to proclaim and convince, to rebuke and encourage. (2 Timothy 4:2). Most importantly, it is not fought with the weapons of mankind. Instead, it is fought with one plain but powerful truth: the crucified Jesus is the risen King of kings. There is no greater power than that.