Fight the good fight: Religion column

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 19, 2018

By Fr.Jonathan J.Filkins 

Somehow the very idea of fighting, of combat, runs against the very grain of the Christian Faith, or so we may perceive. We have been repeatedly told, from every quarter, to “turn the other cheek,” when we feel we have been slighted, or assailed. Yet, in Saint Paul’s first letter to Saint Timothy, we hear the instructive words to “fight the good fight.”

These words convey the confused and very conflicted underpinnings of our human natures.

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Reliably rebellious, our proclivities to be in opposition to others, for later seemingly innocuous rationales, occurs at frequent intervals. From schoolyard spats, to verbal assaults and worse, our histories are rife with these events. Regrettably, we seem most prone to these repetitions. As the sage once said, “Once burned and twice…the fool!

In the days of the early Church the future was unclear. Rife with conflict, many forces were bent upon their views as prevailing to others. Literal fights broke out, well beyond the scholarly wrangling. It was only when they agreed to gather together, in what has been called the seven “Great Councils,” did harmony begin to develop. This, some three hundred years after the Resurrection of Christ Jesus.

In today’s Christian Church, the future is equally unclear. These days too are rife with conflict, with many forces bent on extoling their views as being the only way to Heaven. With the Reformation of the 1500’s and the ongoing splintering of the Church politic, there are, apparently, sufficient reasons to disagree; not only theologically, but in base precepts of the teachings themselves.

So, these fights go on. Now, we have become far less trusting of the world around us; seemingly having the potential of being assaulted at every turn. A sharp word, means that we are being “disrespected,” even if we have deservedly earned the rebuke. Regrettably, we cautiously lock our house and car doors to prevent theft, or intrusion. Some will keep a loaded pistol in the nightstand.

Pretty depressing if accepted on face value of “fighting,” and in the natural order of things.

Yet, Faith itself is not in the natural order of things, God, Jesus Christ and the works of the Holy Spirit are not in the “natural” order. These super-natures of God transcend this finite, dark world.

Miraculously, they are in the supernatural order of things; much of it beyond our understanding and given to each of us.

The nature of our lives, which are both within us and without us, are only our base precepts and not the answers for any real living; at least if we believe in Jesus Christ.

Our calling to fight is the calling to, “fight the good fight of Faith.” The expectation is that we will stand up, not to our differences, but to seek a mutual ground for understanding and agreement.

Instead of empathizing our differences, we are called to fight for the respect of all of humanity; both believers, and non-believers.

In doing, so, by thought word and deed, we become more Christ-like, and are truly “fighting” for His message to all of us and the Redemption of His Creation.