In my last written teaching – A Fashionable Fight 2 – I referenced a “heated” conversation that I had during my engagement with a young couple.
I was thinking about that word….“heated.”
The New Testament equivalent to “heated” is the word zealous, which means “to boil, to burn in the pursuit of good, to exert one’s self for what is right and vehemently contend for what is right.”
The Lord God talks quite a bit about His zeal in regard to the drive it will take for Him to accomplish His purposes.
Observe the famous Christmas verse from Isaiah:
“There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this” – Isaiah 9:7 NASB
Or how the Psalmist says:
“My zeal has consumed me, because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.” – Psalm 119:139 NASB
As followers of Christ, we are to pursue righteous actions with a heated vigor.
“…who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” – Titus 2:14 NASB
The reality is that some “pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,” (2 Corinthians 10:5) cannot and will not be overcome by a tame, civilized, domesticated or “cool” faith. It will take a raw, brave, hot, and intentional trust in our “dreaded champion” (Jeremiah 20:11) to bring about His Kingdom realities (Matthew 11:12).
Muse upon the words of J. Oswald Sanders:
“A great deal more failure is the result of caution than a bold experimentation with new ideas. The frontiers of the Kingdom of God were never advanced by men and women of caution.”
I recently spoke at a men’s retreat in at beautiful Lake Nacimiento near Paso Robles, California. You can see the group of 60+ guys on the front page of this website. It was fun to include JJ, our oldest grandson, in one of my talks as he lead the guys in a discussion of a few key verses and also shared some of his high school experiences with some of his more aggressive secular teachers.
How would you, your children, or grandchildren respond when confronted with the following lies?
• Islam is a religion of peace that was spread by merchants
• Islam introduced hygiene to the world
• Mohammed valued marriage
• Evolution has been unequivocally proven
• There are no absolutes
Are we prepared to “give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15) to these challenging questions and untrue statements? It will take a Christ-follower with “zeal” to be willing to speak up and speak into these challenges!
I have decided that the sin of silence has an antidote… and it is called courage!
If I know nothing else about you, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I know this without question: there is within you an untamed faith waiting to be unleashed! When we come to the living God, He consumes who we are and gives us abundant life that is fueled by His presence!
Once again, Erwin McManus is rather un-conventional… even a little barbaric:
“You have been recreated to live a raw and primal spirituality. Jesus came to ignite a fire [zeal] within you that would consume you and ignite you. Jesus the King came to fight for your heart. If He has won your heart, then to follow your heart will always lead you to follow the heart of God. He will always lead you to advance forward behind enemy lines to win the hearts of those who do not yet know Him or love Him.”
The men at Lake Nacimiento came forward and picked up an arrowhead symbolizing the commitment to move forward as Jesus did on His determined march toward the cross and subsequent resurrection.
“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly [as a harden stone] set his face to go to Jerusalem,”
– Luke 9:51 KJV
Contemplate on what Isaiah prophetically said of God’s suffering servant, the Messiah:
“For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed” – Isaiah 50:7 KJV
Sometimes when we speak of assertive godly masculinity, we can categorize it as being really “out-there” or so radical that it becomes quickly disregarded. In actuality, a “zealous” follower of Christ integrates obedience and truth into everyday life. Let me give you a few examples, which I hope will encourage and motivate you:
Fighting the Good Fight means:
• You choose to speak the truth and do the right thing even when others are espousing and living an unethical life style.
• You are a soldier of Christ when you stand-up and stand-out for the cause of Kingdom of God in your business, school, or recreational atmosphere.
• You attempt to meet and talk with “not-yet-Christians” about their life and specifically, their spiritual background.
• You are in the fray when you are at a restaurant and you identify yourself as a follower of Christ to the waiter or waitress and ask them if you can pray for them.
• You are fighting the good fight when you speak up to your professors about Biblical truth when it pertains to ideologies, philosophies, and other faiths that are contrary to the Word of God.
• You are engaged in the good fight when you pray at a Christmas Party that you host in your home or a neighborhood Fourth of July party.
• You are being a Barbarian-like Christ-follower when you start a bible study with your son or daughter!
The opportunities are limitless, if we will take incremental steps of obedience.
Joshua was commanded of the LORD to begin the grand and dangerous conquest of the Promised Land. This land was given to Israel by an unconditional covenant given as an everlasting possession (See Genesis 17:7,8). Israel, however, needed to take it and occupy it.
Joshua’s words echo through the ages to call us, God’s covenant people through faith, to engage in the “good fight” for the advancement of Yahweh’s kingdom purposes.
“You wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, fully armed, must cross over ahead of your brothers. You are to help your brothers until the LORD gives them rest,…” – Joshua 1:14-15a NIV
Let me end with this great quote from McManus:
“Christianity over the past two thousand years has moved from a tribe of renegades to a religion of conformists. Those who choose to follow Jesus become participants in an insurrection. To claim we believe is simply not enough. Perhaps the tragedy of our time is that such an overwhelming number of us who declare Jesus as Lord have become domesticated—or, if you will, civilized. We have lost the simplicity of our early faith. Beyond that, we have lost the passion [zeal] and power of that raw, untamed, and primal faith.”
Will you be a barbarian follower of Christ with me?
Will you engage in a fashionable fight?
I am, everyday! Let’s do it together!