Friday, June 12, 2009

Fighting the Good Fight

Standing patiently in line at your local McDonald’s is not always rewarded with a little chit-chat with fellow patrons; at times--especially after school’s out--you have to defend your place as a twelve year old charges past you intent on getting their 50 cent soft serve cone before you. An assertive reminder to the young guy to not push in is then met with disdain; I’m left standing in line with a silly grin on my face. (I can laugh at myself as I reflect on that.)

There are times too, when a close friend or a trusted associate (or even a family member) will bizarrely tell us a fib in an attempt to do something they want to do, or in order to keep us in the dark--well intentioned or not. As that friend or associate on the receiving end we’re to be forgiven for feeling confused and hurt. It’s just natural.

Both situations happened to me recently--within about one hour of each other. Like anyone, I was tempted to feel a little jilted and confused.

But there’s one thing that God’s shown me over the past few recent years, and that is how to fight the good fight, after all Mark Twain said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

People think that fighting is all about defending your rights and standing your dig. The best way to fight is the sharp opposite, however.

Fighting the good fight is not natural, but it is effective--for both us, and the other party(s). And this is what motivates us to try… if we follow God we understand that he doesn’t allow us the luxury of hurting people (even, especially even, if they’ve hurt us).

What God showed me later in these two examples above was the cursing in both these people’s lives that compelled them to transgress me. This made me feel sorry for them.

But besides that, fighting the good fight is about ‘the size of the fight’ in us; not a fight to battle and war with others, but a fight to battle and war with our own flesh toward the winning of the battle--the building of absorbent resilience to forgive better, quicker, longer.

Absorbent resilience is etched in love and is the ability to fashion the ‘look of Christ’ as Selwyn Hughes describes below:

“When you gaze upon the face of someone you have hurt and you see hurt but no rejection in that look you have just had a glimpse of the face of Jesus Christ.”[1]
And this is the key difference between the mature Christian and the also-ran; it’s a ‘key competency’ for anyone following Christ to be able to ‘aggressively forgive’ throwing caution to the wind in doing so.

This ability reveals a resilience in the forgiving person that is hard to reconcile; it’s a forgiveness that must be completed with the will, not the heart--but the heart will certainly catch up once God’s tipped in his insights regarding the affair. We see here love is both a wilful action and (later) a feeling--the action’s more important. We need to absorb the hurt; it gets easier with practise.

Giving God the chance to reveal his insights on our hurts requires faith to forgive wilfully now, and wait for the rest. Again, he catches us up and our hearts follow as he gives us the other side of the story, eventually.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Selwyn Hughes, Spoken from the Heart (Surrey, England: Crusade for World Revival, 2005), p. 114.

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