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I Love a Good Fight!
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2006 Winter Olympics
Photo: Stefano Barni
In the ’06 Winter Olympics, America got caught up in a week-long soap opera between two speed skaters. Who as snubbing who? Who wasn’t trying his hardest? Who didn’t deserve a gold medal? Who was out just for his own personal glory? The bitter saga seemed to lead the news out of Turino nearly every night. And we loved it!

There’s a character in the Bible who may be the biggest boxing fan in the universe. He loves a ringside seat at a good fight. Actually, Lucifer doesn’t usually park himself on the front row at the MGM Grand, but you can bet he’s surreptitiously behind a curtain and silently cheering when two Christians square off and get into a dispute.

Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 13 about a farmer and his hired hands who diligently plant some high-grade durum wheat . . . the good stuff. But one morning when they chug out there on their John Deeres, lo and behold, there are weeds coming up with the wheat. Bunches of ‘em! There’s a whole Fangorn Forest of evil out there and the workers are up to their hips in the stuff.

The master surveys the mess and quietly observes: “An enemy hath done this.” The weeds of division didn’t get there by themselves; this discord, this assault on the peace and tranquility of Happy Hollow Farm isn’t just a random accident.

I once saw a “prayer request letter” a mom had sent in to a radio ministry. “My son seems to delight in conflict,” she wrote. Always trying to get people upset.” I instinctively thought to myself: “Stupid kid. Somebody should give him a good thumping.” Then I read the last cryptic line: “He’s 11, has been sexually molested, in counseling for over two years.”

Sharing His Pain

Oh. So that’s the whole story. This kid fights. He loves to fight. He’s addicted to fighting. Something sick and hurt inside him compensates for his own heartache by getting someone else to share his pain. And we see a demonic power exulting the shadows.

My home denomination once got embroiled in a decades-long debate that centered on one of those unsolvable theology issues that don’t ever go away. Books were written on both sides; magazine articles lambasted those who disagreed; camp meetings and convocations were gripped with the back-and-forth and the diatribes from the left and the right. And I remember one line which summarized the futility of trying to win this unwinnable war: “We have wasted valuable time,” the author concluded. “We have discouraged many. If the hand of the devil is not in this, then he is not alive” (Roy Adams, The Nature of Christ).

There are times when it is appropriate to be angry. But the Bible warns us: "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold" (Ephesians 4:26, 27). And instead of focusing our mental energy on winning arguments and getting the best of our fellow Christians – which the devil loves – we’re invited to this high platform of peace: But we have the mind of Christ.

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By David Smith. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.


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