In the 1662 Book of Common Prayer we have a wonderful statement which highlights the essential truth of the battle we face in our Christian life. In that Baptismal service, as the sign of the cross is traced on the child’s forehead the priest says, “[We] do sign him with the sign of the Cross, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under His banner, against sin, the world, and the devil and to continue as Christ’s faithful soldier and servant unto his life’s end.”10
We have largely lost this language and this attitude and traded it for a much more passive attitude. The Bible knows and teaches nothing of this passive approach to faith. If we are going to be faithful, if we are going to mature and grow in our discipleship, it is going to require a fight. The fight will be against our rebellious sinful nature, against the pressure of the world around us, and without question against, as it says in our current prayerbook, “Satan and spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God”
St. Paul tells Timothy “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:11-12
Think of the great Christians you know, whether your blessed grandmother or St. Teresa. Think about any of the great followers of Christ in the Church. Is there any doubt that they chose to engage in this fight and pursue the virtues St. Paul outlines? Spiritual vibrancy and maturity does not come first. Those things are the fruit of the pursuit, the discipline of pursing the righteousness of God).
The great J.C. Ryle underscores this as well in his book Holiness. In it he says, “The true Christian is called to be a soldier…He is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence and security. He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and doze along the way to heaven.”9
We live in a world that is full of physical difficulties, trials, and danger. We see it on a daily basis and it is reported in gruesome detail twenty-four hours a day. What we do not see reported, and what St. Paul is warning Timothy about, are the spiritual dangers that surround us. Spiritual difficulties, trials, and danger are around us daily as well.
St. Paul tells Timothy, and us, to flee those things that draw us away from the life we are called to live as children of God. As His children we are to never forget whose we are, and flee the things that are opposed to our Father. Likewise we are to pursue, to chase after, those things that are in line with His will. Make no mistake, it is a fight. It always has been for every true Christian. We will have victories and defeats. We will succeed at times and fail at times, but we must continue forward and never despair. In the midst of a difficult and dangerous world, you and I are to seek first His Kingdom regardless of what faces us in the kingdoms of this world.
Get in the fight!