“Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.”(I Tim.1:18-19) Yes, you are reading Paul’s words correctly, he is encouraging Timothy to fight. Our world today is very familiar with the term fight. We’ve seen riots over skin color and fighting over political views. Unfortunately, these fights and nearly all of the fights the news media broadcasts are not good fights. As outlandish as that sounds, there is a good fight and it’s the fight that Paul encouraged Timothy then and Christians today to fight.
Paul told Timothy to “fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience”. The good fight that Timothy was expected to engage in and we are expected to participate in today is the fight for faith. Life throws all sorts of tragic circumstances and sinful temptations at us and we Christians must fight off all negatives and maintain our faith. The whole point in fighting the good fight is to hold on to your faith in God. Many have yielded to temptation and quit in the face of adversity only to shipwreck their faith. Brothers and sisters we don’t need to fight all these fights the world continues to engage in and promote. But, we must see the necessity of fighting the good fight for our faithfulness to God and we better fight hard.
Maybe you’ve heard of the television show “The Walking Dead”. I’ll admit I’ve never watched a single minute of an episode but I have heard a lot about the show. I remember at one point that social media blew up with comments about “The Walking Dead”. Apparently this show about the dead is very much alive with quite the following. “The Walking Dead”, that’s an interesting title for a t.v. series. Of course we know the dead can’t walk. But, what if I told you the dead can walk and the dead are walking and I’m not referring to heaven.
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”(Rom.6:11) Paul is basically explaining that Christians are the walking dead. Paul is writing to those who had been baptized into Christ and are now as a result, dead.(Rom.6:3-4) Yes, it is true that baptism gives new life, (Rom.6:4) but there is also a death that occurs at baptism. At baptism one dies to self and sin. Christians are “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ”.(Rom.6:11) Dead to sin means that I can’t live for myself and sin anymore. Christians are the true walking dead.
I’ve noticed almost every business I enter I hear some kind of welcoming remark from the employees. From the place that I get my haircut to my dentist office to several local restaurants and businesses, they all want me and everyone else to feel welcome. Let’s be honest. We are more likely to return to a store or restaurant if they are friendly to us. If we feel the staff or employees were not friendly or really didn’t care if we were there or not, chances are we won’t return. The same is true in the church.
Sadly, people leave church buildings across the United States every Sunday frustrated because the congregation they just visited wasn’t visitor friendly. One of the most heartbreaking comments I can hear as a minister is, “the congregation where you preach is not friendly”. That statement is both frustrating and hurtful because I know our congregation to be full of friendly and loving people. But, are we visitor friendly? We are more than friendly, loving and encouraging to our own church family but what about those showing up for the first time? We must train ourselves to look for the unfamiliar faces in our church building each Sunday and make it a point to speak to them. Being a visitor friendly church is about making our visitors feel welcome when they join us for worship.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”(Lk.6:31)