About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Fight Of Faith
The book of Acts ends
with the Apostle Paul living in house arrest for two years.
While waiting for his trial before Nero he preached the gospel to
anyone who would come and listen to him.
There's no Biblical record of Paul's trial or what transpired
afterwards. We do know from
Romans 15:24 and 28 that he wanted to eventually preach in Spain. There is credible
historical Christian evidence that Paul was acquitted by Nero and did
as planned. Upon returning
Paul most likely wrote
his second letter to Timothy from a prison in Rome
just before he was executed. 2
Timothy 4:6 and 7 was meant to encourage Timothy.
"The time has come for my departure.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have
kept the faith". As
this passage indicates, Paul's life on earth would soon end.
His fight with a hostile political, social, and religious world
would soon be over.
Timothy would have
agonized over Paul's words. The
thought of Paul being strapped to a Roman chopping block would have
ripped his heart into a million bleeding pieces.
He knew Paul's fight. It
was his fight too. The idea
of his head being sliced by a Roman sword would have tied his stomach
into a thousand knots.
Paul compared God's
calling on his life to a race, but if he was alive today he might
compare it to a football game. You
catch the football. You run
as fast as you can. You
maneuver your way through the tangled web of those who oppose you.
You get flattened to the ground.
You get up and start the whole process over, only to have your
face smashed onto the turf again. No
matter how many times you're trampled upon, and, no matter how painful
it feels, you never give up. You
push your way through opposing forces until you cross the goal line.
Only then, and not before, do you celebrate victory.
That was Paul's existence in a society that opposed his every
Timothy must have felt
sick to his stomach. The man
whom he served Jesus with, loved in the Lord, and learned so much from,
would soon be dead. Tears
must have drenched his face with the thought of a future without Paul.
No one would stop him now; not Nero, not the devil. He'd
be a fearless fighter for the faith.
Paul had many
opportunities to forsake the faith.
He could have recanted as the Roman soldier swung his sword
downwards to Paul's neck. Once
Paul's head fell to the ground into a puddle of blood that was shed for
his Saviour, the fight was over. The
finish line was in sight. Paul's
extermination was his final witness for Jesus.
Not all Christians kept
the faith back then. Timothy
would have known some of the defectors.
With unwavering resolve he would vow to never be found among the
unfaithful. He'd remain
faithful to the end.
Life provides us with
numerous opportunities to forsake our faith.
In the midst of the Jesus People Movement in 1972 I admonished a
group of us to never give up on Jesus despite the many opportunities
we'd have to do so. I was
openly rebuked for inserting what some perceived to be a negative word
into the gathering. The fact
of the matter is that if those in the room would have taken my
admonition seriously, those who eventually forsook the faith would still
be faithful today.
Paul fought the fight,
ran the race, and kept the faith. The
sword that slivered its way through his throat didn't prevent him from
crossing the finish line. Christians
in today's western world have no clue what Paul endured.
Paul's grueling race to the finish line has been our stroll in
the park. Paul's frightening
fight for the faith has been our whispered words in support of the
The first century
Nero wannabes are
maneuvering their way to the top of every political heap of rubble.
One such Nero wannabe seems to be the mayor of Houston, Texas. Recently she has
subpoenaed sermon notes, emails, and recorded messages from pastors in a
Hitler style attempt to catch them espousing a socially unacceptable
view of sexuality.
The door to the rule of
law based on Biblical ideals is beginning to close.
The door to dictatorial decrees based on the doctrine of relevant
tolerance is now ajar, and once ajar, will soon be wide open.
When that door opens, the words of the German poet Heinrich Heine
(1797 to 1856) will ring true. "Where
books are burned, they will, in the end, burn people too".
My point is simple.
Paul's fight for the faith is now our fight.
Our stroll in the park is over.
Our casual Christianity must end.
Let's fight the fight, run the race, and keep the faith, until we
all cross the finish line.