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God Wants To Teach Us to Fight

What a paradoxical world we live in. The fight between conservatives and liberals plays out on TVs every day. We see school shootings and synagogue shootings, 297 in America this year (that’s almost one a day!) while violent crime has fallen over the last two decades.  On a global scale, we…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

What a paradoxical world we live in. The fight between conservatives and liberals plays out on TVs every day. We see school shootings and synagogue shootings, 297 in America this year (that’s almost one a day!) while violent crime has fallen over the last two decades. 

On a global scale, we are living in the most peaceful times in the history of the world. Violence has declined as democracy and literacy have increased.

Yet fear in America seems to be prevalent. People are eaten up with angst. We lock our doors and worry about our kids. 

If you are a Christian, what does Jesus expect of you when it comes to fighting? He said some apparently contradictory things. He began his ministry by saying, “I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matt. 5:39)

And then he appears to give another perspective toward the end of his ministry. As he was preparing his disciples for his death, he said, “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Swords are for fighting. So whatever his intention was, it’s safe to say that Jesus doesn’t expect us to be lapdogs.

The Old Testament is full of conflict. Apparently kings annually marched off to war in the springtime (2 Sam. 11:1). And while Jesus gave us a new covenant, we also see that God gave his people principles about fighting.

Throughout the Bible, we see God’s children fighting evil. Eph. 6 shows us that we are to resist evil and fight a spiritual battle.

God uses evil to train his people. In Judges 3:1-4 we see that a generation arose with no battle experience. And God used evil people to train them.

“These are the nations that God left there, using them to test the Israelites who had no experience in the Canaanite wars. He did it to train the descendants of Israel, the ones who had no battle experience, in the art of war. He left the five Philistine tyrants… They were there to test Israel and see whether they would obey God’s commands.” 

Traditionally men especially have had the role of protecting the family. But these days we neuter our men and ask our women to do the fighting. We turn men into couch potatoes content to watch others fight on TV.

And while violence may be declining, the need to fight to establish the kingdom is greater than ever. Jesus expects us to come against injustice and evil and fight it. We’re told in James that true religion is “caring for widows and orphans in their distress.”

It’s a paradox that so many would feel a passion for justice, but lack the courage to fight for it. The 4 million women caught in the sex trade are like widows in distress. UNICEF estimates there are 153 million orphans in the world. Who will practice true religion and fight for them?

And in your neighborhood, people are in desperate need of help. The family in America has never been in worse shape. More than 20 million children are growing up in a family without a father. 57% of African-American children are growing up in homes without a father. Who will fight for them?

We need to learn to fight for righteous causes. As Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Too many of us have slid into a passive place. We need to recover the capacity to fight for what is right.

Where is evil impacting those you love? How has God trained you to fight it? Isn’t it time that you recognized that you are his response to a world in pain? He is waiting for you to fight for his children. Will you?

Comments (8)

  • Good word Seth. I think a lot of young people are looking for the good fight around them, and many Christians are missing the opportunity right now of being a witness of Christ in that fight.

  • Seems we read the Bible too much from an American violent worldview and not onebased on what God is saying about his kingdom. Are you certain the verse about trading your jacket for a sword is about a physical fight? Didn’t Paul say that our fight is one against principalities? A spiritual fight? Paul also says that all we need to do is stand. And after that, to stand. In Exodus God tells Israel “I will fight for you, and you only have to be still.” Why don’t we be still and listen for God’s voice. Revelation says a few times that those that have an ear should hear what God is saying to the church. Unball your fists and listen.There is enough violent fighting and frustration out there.

  • As a christian victim of stalking domestic abuse parental alienation. I have been so confused. He’s broken so many laws can I should I fight back? Between a sermon I heard today this and a post somewhere else. It may hurt me more but. I believe God will help me fight for my daughter going through the same horrible abuses by the same man except he is her father and far more controlling with her. God be with us all.

  • I feel confused about whether or not God supports any sort of legal fight ie taking someone to court over a crime they committed? Does it mean we can’t stand up for ourselves if someone is continually doing us harm? My 96yr old mother was abused by my brother and sister. The Human Rights Commission said I have a very strong case. Do I stir up trouble to lead them to justice or just pray for them?

  • Are we to forgive people even when they show absolutely no repentance and keep repeating nastiness against us?

    • It’s central to the gospel: “Peter came to Him and asked, Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times? No, not seven times, Jesus replied, but seventy times seven!”

      No matter how many times you sin, you can still come back to God, confess and receive His forgiveness.

      Forgiveness does not mean putting yourself in harms way. But its possible to end an unhealthy relationship but be willing to forgive and not hold onto bitterness, no matter how many times that person hurt you.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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