Fighting back is hard, especially if you are a sweet, gentle spirit as I am. (Don’t laugh outright, rolling on the floor in hysterics as my husband just did. He apparently does not believe that.) But I am quite serious here, I am actually a peaceful soul who prefers to just get along with everybody or avoid them entirely.
I have all those Christian values about forgiveness and mercy, about turning the other cheek, and also some ingrained damage from childhood. Even in middle school when those mean girls are trying to create their little cliques, I could not be bothered to care. “Where’s my carrot,” has been a frequent lamentation of my soul. As in, why would I even want to comply with your nonsense? Where is the payoff, where’s my carrot?
We can blame my mother here, she was and still is so good at completely withholding all approval, so I grew up not even knowing what approval was, or that carrots even existed. Complete learned helplessness. When I think about that, I am absolutely amazed, bedazzled by how miraculous it is that God found me, claimed me, redeemed me. My younger self didn’t even require God’s approval, didn’t even know His favor was possible. All in good humor here, but His carrots were not all that enticing either, as in, “I offer you abraded pride. Let me shatter you into a million pieces. There are pearls in the bottom of this cesspool.” How do you even speak to someone like me? I don’t know, but He did it.
Over the years I’ve also come to understand that what I once cloaked in Christian values, in turning the other cheek, was actually undesirable, sinful. I did not understand that we are actually at war here, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Called to battle.
When we are called to battle, it is actually immoral to set your sword down and walk away, to refuse to fight for things that are important. We ourselves are important, as in God has made a tremendous investment in us, and we belong to Him. To not fight for ourselves is to not protect and defend His property.
The truth is another thing we are called to fight for. Jesus himself says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” If we cannot stand in the truth we are not fighting for our Lord and Savior. He is gentle and kind, but He is also a General, a King seated on a white horse, leading us to battle. Often we miss seeing this side of Christ, the power and authority He has.
God spoke to me gently about this for a long time, and then one day it was as if the gates of hell poured down my driveway and I was boxed in on all sides, could not walk away, could not run, and so I had to fight, and I learned that we will fight for the things we love, and if we aren’t willing to fight for them, then we don’t really love them at all.
That is a harsh truth and it doesn’t sit well with many people, because we often want to create a more peaceful world, to avoid conflict, and to not do things that are going to cost us. Jesus flat our tells us in Matthew 10:34, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
If you are one of those brash and bold warriors, without mercy, forever whacking people upside the head with a sword, you might need to tone it down a bit, but if you are like me, a sweet gentle spirit, don’t overlook the fact that love that does not fight back isn’t love at all. It’s actually indifference.