“I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith;” ~ 1 Timothy 1:18-19 NRSV
Fighting is something that Americans are good at; very good! We love a good fight. We even have sports dedicated to fighting. If that isn’t good enough, fights break out in the midst of other sporting events just to make them more exciting. But fighting is not usually thought of in connection with faith. Well, not usually in connection with Jesus.
The Church has definitely had their fair share of fights over the last 2000 years. Christendom gave birth to the idea of fighting for our right to our faith. And the Church has been guilty of using power and violence to press people into the faith. But is that what St. Paul is trying to tell Timothy in this passage? Is St. Paul really advocating violence in the Name of Jesus?
Paul finds himself at the end of his natural life. He is in prison and knows that death, martyrdom, is inevitable. Timothy has become his “son in the faith”. And Paul uses these last two letters to instruct and remind Timothy of all he will need to remain faithful to Jesus Christ. Paul uses a term for fighting that is synonymous with military strategy. It is about laying a campaign strategy that will enable him to reach the finish line.
We have strategies for all different areas of our life. We have a strategy for losing weight, gaining weight, quitting smoking or drinking. We have a strategy for retirement or advancement in our career. But we spend very little time creating a strategy that will ensure we finish well in our faith. Usually, we approach it with a defensive attack when a problem arises. Very seldom do we approach our faith with an offensive attack. Sometimes we think we have an offensive strategy, but it is just simply offensive…no strategy involved.
Since, New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, it would be a good time to make a plan; a strategy for the New Year 2012. We hope you will join us during the month of January as we take a look at what it means to fight the good fight. Join us or find a place where you can fight the good fight with other persons of faith. Happy New Year!