It was a quick conversation. A passing comment / counter-comment chat in the restroom quickly conducted between washing and drying our hands. Used to be those were light chats about the weather or the local sports team. Now, seems every moment, even those side conversations, are preoccupied with the season we’re in, the signs of the times that are so apparent, and what we need to be doing when Jesus comes. And this brother said something to the effect, “We need to fight.”
Really? Is that what we need to do in the end times? Fight?
While I am tempted to ask that question with an air of incredulity, I’m hearing it so often from so many these days that I honestly need to consider I may be missing something. Is the right response to an increasing age of antichrist beliefs and behaviors to fight those who, dead in trespass and sin, are walking in the way of a world in rebellion so that we can reverse those beliefs and behaviors? Or, are we called to double down in being light amidst darkness? Or, is it both? Don’t know.
I recall that John talks about the spirit of antichrist in his letters. Had a quick look. Seems his exhortations are more to do with making sure we are abiding. “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father” (1Jn. 2:18-24). That in the last days we need to remember that we have overcome the world, “for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” and double down on loving one another (1Jn. 4:3-7). That in the ends times we need to be extra diligent to “watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward” (2Jn. 1:7-8). And we do that not by fighting back against the world but standing fast with the whole armor of God, particularly the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (2Jn. 1:9, cf. Eph. 6:17).
That’s all in line with what’s hit me from my reading in 1Peter this morning.
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
(1Peter 5:5b-7 ESV)
Peter’s writing to believers who feel like they’re in the end times (1Pet. 4:7). That’s why, I think, Peter refers often to Christ’s second coming in the letter (1:7, 1:11, 1:13, 4:5, 4:13, 5:2, 5:4). And you read the letter and you don’t sense Peter thinks they should double down on fighting back against the world, but on loving, caring, and serving one another. The problem, I think, in adopting a fight attitude, is you end up not just fighting the world, but everyone else that doesn’t see things they way you do.
Not saying we all need to see things the same way. Christian unity is not uniformity nor is it unanimity. But, seems to me, it is a transcendent commitment to a transcendent community based on a transcendent calling for a transcendent cause — the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And, while I’m not bright enough to know for sure how to navigate differing views and divided opinions within the church, I do wonder if fighting the system needs to be our focus. Or, if it starts with clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another. If the tensions we’re feeling, as the pressure of antichrist seems to be more prominent, shouldn’t find their release casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you rather than by turning on one another.
Do we need to fight? I don’t know, maybe. But I do know we need to stand fast. And everything I’m picking up from what Peter seems to be laying down is that it is best done together, as we abide in Christ, His word abides in us, and we love one another.
As we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. As we cast all of fears on Him. As we rest in His promised care for us.
By His grace. For His glory.