Why Do We Fight?
Imagine You are a person running from the roman government. Your family are Christians and you do not know what to do. You go into town and a market person looks at you and says they have seen you with Jesus…. And you run
Imagine You hold in your hand the insignia of your ancestors and a British/roman solderer takes your hand off because you may be a “witch” but really you are one who is just trying to get along.
Imagine you are a jew sitting in a bar playing music in Gemany. Your lover runs in telling you to run. You realize not only do they want to kill you because of what race you were born into but because of who God made you to be. In another time and place you would be married to the love of your life, eating Passover dinner with your family, but not now and not ever. You sit there playing music knowing you will die making music, another part of what God created you to be.
Imagine last year you tried to kill yourself 4 times and your name was Paul. You fought your whole life not feeling like yourself. Now you are Paulette and the changes have made you love yourself even though you lost your job, your family won’t talk to you, and you are living in your car because your landlord kicked you out for changing your life.
Imagine you are an African American woman who has worked her whole life to build a reputation and you go out one day to just to get a cup of coffee and you can’t be served because they don’t serve your kind here.
Imagine, you are a Spanish man. You own your own business. You were born in California and you are walking down the street and someone throws a bottle at your head and screams for you to go back where you came from.
This could be your story or your neighbors story, or your families story. When do you stand up and fight? When do we stand up and say enough is enough? But we are supposed to be Christians and we don’t do that, No. Some of the best fighters for Justice were Christians. Martin Luther nailed the thesis on the door of the Catholic Church and started the Protestant (Protest..ant) movement. It is based off of protesting the injustices of the Catholic Church. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister and fought for a dream that we all know today. Fought so strong he lost his life for it. We are supposed to fight for, protect, and provide for the Marginalized.
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” -Isaiah 1:17
“This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” -Jeremiah 22:3
“But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” -Luke 11:41
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2 Well than we need to check our privilege at the door and notice who are the marginalized around us. We need to look at the systems that are dividing us, that are hurting those we are supposed to help, and change them. We need to look at ourselves and make sure we are not dividing but reconciling. Are we teaching to love or to segregate?
I have been taking a long look at the teachings in my past that have not brought me to a place of change towards loving widely. It has been an interesting journey and I am finding some disturbing things. Tell me if you remember any church leaders in your past saying these things: “There is no room for the political woman...we place women in her natural sphere of the family stressing her duties as wife and mother…but one thing must be made clear: only a man must be and remain judge, soldier and politician.”
In my childhood if your husband gave you permission you can do it, but women were not to have a strong opinion or they were trouble makers. How about this one? “Those who are considering love between men or between women are our enemies. Anything that emasculates our people and that makes us fair game for our enemies we reject, because we know that life is a struggle and that life is insanity to believe that all human beings will one day embrace each other as brothers. Natural history teaches us a different lesson. Might makes right. And the strong will always prevail against the weaker. Today we are the weaker. Let us make sure that we will become the stronger again! This we can do only if we exercise moral restraint. Therefor we reject all immorality, especially love between men, because it deprives us of our last chance to free our people from chains of slavery which are keeping it fettered today.”
Do any of those sound familiar to you? Did you know that that is directly from a Nazi pamphlet? Several of the propaganda from the Nazi era was exactly what I was told from the pulpit and religious leaders growing up. They were Southern, white, extremely patriotic, America, people. I can’t imagine them thinking they were spouting Nazi propaganda. Makes me wonder what they would say if they realize they got it from them. Scary right? But pastor we have moved past that, Have we? Do we still look at others and see it as an us them mentality? Do we not hang out with THAT KIND OF PERSON? We need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. We need to stand and fight for the marginalized creating within ourselves a right relationship with God and the world instead of being Self-Righteous so called Christians. So what is the difference: Self-Righteous Christians are those who claim they have all the right answers and the right to rule and control others. Their ethical theology is based on fear and control. Creating a right relation, by contrast, means to seek justice through a dynamic relational commitment with others and God. We can fall into either camp, basing our life on power drawn from fear and control or having our lives stand for and be grounded in our conviction to love and be in mutual desire to be connected with and be committed to others and the love and life that flows through all of us. This brings us back to relationship every time. We look at our community and we hold up those who need to be held up so that we as a community grow together. We can be reconciled to each other and God. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;- 2 Corinthians 5:18
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. -Romans 5:10
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthian 5:18-21
Why do we stand and fight for justice….Reconciliation. We fight because in John 3:16-17 it says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. We fight because God fought for us and sacrificed for us so we could do the same for each other and live together in love.
“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”’ - John 18:36
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” - John 10:10
So now we know why we fight. How does God teach us to fight?
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” - Ephesians 6:12
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” - 1 Peter 5:8-9
Don’t let fear take over, be ready. “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” - Isaiah 54:17
We are promised this so we can see the strength of the God we have. It starts with Faith, faith in God, faith in love, and faith in the hope God gives us that we are to stand and love fiercely. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.” - Hebrews 11:1-40
So we stand in the faith God has given us and the Hope that is creates. Then we seek the Lord and God’s strength (1 Chronicles 16:11), and then we love. “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,” - Proverbs 25:21
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”’ - Romans 12:17-19
That does not mean don’t take a stand, but do it as peacefully as possible. “And when you meet trials, and you will, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”’ James 1:2-3
And we do not have to worry because time and time again God tells us what standing up and bringing reconciliation brings us.
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” - 2 Thessalonians 3:3
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” - Psalm 18:2
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” - Isaiah 40:31
Over and over again all through he Bible we see what standing up and fighting for the marginalized does. When we stop looking at others that are different than us as Us and them and start to see it as We then we start to love the differences and desire to have them in our lives. We start to see that we need their differences to complete who we are in this vast Body of Christ. We start to put our fear away and not see it as loosing our freedom, but gaining a different point of view. It is time to heal this land. It is is time to stand up and say no more, we need to love radically and remind the world that Christianity is about loving first and judging last. We need to take a hard look at ourselves and change what we can in us so that others will see the change and will ask how? We need to be ready in seasons and out to love wide and be ready to fight for love, to fight for the ones that need to be fought for and put ourselves and our privilege aside and just love deeply and freely. It is time to make a change and that starts with us.