I’m not much of a fighter, but I did try.
As a cadet at West Point, I reluctantly learned to use the pugil stick (Sorry, the image to the left will have to do – no pictures of my fighting exploits remain). Pugil sticks are those giant Q-tip like “weapons” that you have perhaps seen in movies. In actuality, the pugil stick is used to simulate fighting with a bayonet. So there are moves you learn: “Butt to the head”, “slash”, “jab”, etc. Yeah, loads of army fun.
My squad leader for the second half of basic training (a.k.a. “beast barracks” at West Point) was a guy named Dan Cox. Dan was a Firstie (senior) when I got to know him – he was quite the leader, the captain of the hockey team, and had actually been the pugil stick champion of his entire plebe class. So when I tell you that I had one of the best trainers in Cadet Cox, I’m not exaggerating, yet I was still pretty much a lost cause.
My problem was that I would get into the ring with my opponent (whoever the lucky guy might be) and after the whistle or whatever would signal the beginning of the match, my adversary would invariably begin to pummel me. Pummeling hurts, even with giant Q-tips, and I would instinctively turn my back to the pain. Now, you understand that this was simulating bayonet warfare, and turning your back was absolutely the worst thing a pugil stick fighter could have done. My trainer Dan may have won his plebe tournament, but I his protégé was out in the first round.
I may have quit West Point, but it was at the Academy where I first learned about the real fight, which no one can ever quit. More than once, the Apostle Paul calls this Christian life – warfare, and in 2 Corinthians 10, he tells us how we are supposed to fight this war:
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (ESV)
What is that divine power? Paul doesn’t say exactly, but he gives some hints…
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV)
The weapons we fight with are not of the flesh – they are spiritual, and through them we destroy strongholds and arguments, like the lure of the idol of mammon or the lies of the prince of darkness.
So when I sit down over lunch to share the good news with a friend, I want to be sure to fight with the powerful spiritual weapons at my disposal. I don’t just use philosophical arguments. No, I wield the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God in the Gospel (Ephesians 6:17). And I approach the meeting with prayer, for the saying is true: “You should never talk to men about God before you talk to God about men.” And finally, I rely on the Spirit of God, for no man was ever converted without Him.
We are in a fight for the souls of men and women, for eternal life or eternal death. So we fight the enemy head-on with the weapons our Commander has supplied…and we never turn our backs.
For Wednesday, June 10th: 2 Corinthians 11