Monday, October 23, 2017

SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR

What do you consider worth fighting for?

For much of the time I lived in Medellín, Colombia, we owned a dog. Her name was Shep. I realized after “inheriting” Shep that it was a blessing that the Lord never granted me children. I couldn’t even manage to train Shep, let alone a brood of kids! Still, she was a pretty good dog and in a country where personal security is an issue, it was nice to have good-sized dog with a pretty fierce bark close at hand.

Everyone who lived on the mission property had a dog. There were even some who had more than one. Our immediate neighbours had three, a shepherd and a poodle of their own, plus a big dumb Doberman by the name of Brass, who hung around even though he didn’t really belong to them.

Donna, the neighbour who lived just across the driveway, used to buy her beef by the hindquarter and that meant that there were often bones left over for the dogs. My office door opened into the courtyard of the house I was sharing. Usually the gate to the courtyard was closed. Shep didn’t respond to instructions too well so we kept her enclosed. But this particular morning someone had left the gate open and Shep had taken off to visit the neighbours. I happened to look up when she came racing back into the yard dragging what must have been the leg bone of a cow. I’d never seen anything that big! She happily settled in a corner to chew her bone. It wasn’t until later that I heard the story.

Donna had given the bone to Brass. The Doberman was quite a bit bigger and heavier than Shep and I imagine that nobody in his or her right mind would try to take a bone from a Doberman. But Shep had—and succeeded.

There are some things worth fighting for. To a dog, a bone that big was one of them.

Over the years I’ve learned to pick my battles. Some people might think that Christians shouldn’t ever fight—over anything. We’re expected to be meek and mild, like Jesus.

Like Jesus?

There is no doubt that the Lord Jesus was a loving, compassionate man. The record of His short stay on this planet is filled with evidence of that. Isaiah tells us that He went to His death as a lamb goes to slaughter. He didn’t open His mouth (Isaiah 54). But Jesus wasn’t as meek and mild as He is often portrayed. He knew what battles were worth fighting, what causes were worth standing up for, when a sharp tongue was called for to drill home a point.

Perhaps the most famous of examples comes to us from Mark 11:15-18. Not every event in Jesus’ life is recorded in every one of the Gospels. But this story is written for us in all four, probably because it was so unusual for Jesus to show this side of His character.

The Lord has come into Jerusalem. He enters the temple. The one place that should be hushed in holy silence is awash with the lowing of sheep, the cries of hawkers selling their wares, and the arguments of moneychangers trying to get “a better bang for someone else’s buck.” The place where God is to be met is a meeting place for businessmen and thieves. The place of doing business with God is a shortcut for those trying to get from one place of business to another.

And Jesus gets angry. The Scripture says that He began to drive out those who were buying and selling. He overturned the tables and kept those using the courtyard as a shortcut from passing through. And then He called their attention to what the temple was really for.

Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it ‘a den of robbers’ (Mark 11:17, NIV).

Even though Jesus knew that His actions would bring Him just that much closer to betrayal and death, He also knew that some battles are worth the price. The honour of God’s house and the glory of His Name were important.

What do I consider worth fighting for? What do you consider worth fighting for? Where’s that point where we draw our lines in the sand and say: “This far and no farther?”

By nature, I am someone who avoids conflict. Unhappily I can look back and identify times when I was true to that nature and kept my head down and my mouth shut when I should have stood up for truth and righteousness. There have been times when I left the “bone to Brass” when I should have fought for it.

I mentioned earlier that with the years I have learned to pick my battles. That phrase sounds like I have learned not to fight all the battles that come my way. But since I am someone who has traditionally avoided conflict at all costs, it is truer to say that I am finally learning not to ignore any battles, but to prayerfully consider which ones are of Kingdom value and need to be fought.

Shep could have gotten herself seriously mauled. Luckily for her, Brass was truly big and DUMB. In the end, it probably wasn’t much of a fight. But whether or not the battle was minor, the prize was definitely worth going after. You can tell that by the look on her face.

And when I stand for truth and right as Jesus once did, I can be sure that the satisfied smile of God is reflected in a brighter star, a redder sunset, or in just a few more diamonds on a lake as it glitters in the sunshine.

Is there some place where you need to take a stand?

 

Lynda is a missionary, speaker, educator, writer, editor, and cat lover. She was born and raised in Timmins, the heart of gold mining country in northeastern Ontario, Canada. Lynda has served with Fellowship International for more than thirty years, first in Colombia, a brief stint on home staff in Toronto, Ontario and, more recently in Venezuela. She is currently on staff at First Baptist Church in Timmins, Ontario where her primary focus is spiritual formation. The author of Divine Design for Daily Living, a 365 day devotional journey through the entire Bible (published in Spanish and English),  Lynda blogs Lynda’s Grain of Sand, maintains her own website Northern Breezes , and has been seconded by Fellowship International to serve on the Communications team of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.

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