Once in a sermon, the great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, spoke strongly against owning slaves. In that sermon, he said about the emancipator William Wilberforce:
“Not so very long ago our nation tolerated slavery in our colonies. Philanthropists endeavored to destroy slavery; but when was it utterly abolished? It was when Wilberforce roused the church of God, and when the church of God addressed herself to the conflict, then she tore the evil thing to pieces. I have been amused with what Wilberforce said the day after they passed the Act of Emancipation. He merrily said to a friend when it was all done, ‘Is there not something else we can abolish?’ That was said playfully, but it shows the spirit of the church of God. She lives in conflict and victory; her mission is to destroy everything that is bad in the land. “(The Best Warcry, March 4, 1883)
Another great British thinker, CS Lewis, said that Christianity, too, is a fighting religion. Just as Jesus loved the world by combatting evil in the world, his followers will do the same. Advancing the good includes “picking fights” with everything that threatens and diminishes the good.
But before we are ready to fight the wrong out there…
The Fault In Ourselves
In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s Cassius says, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” It is easy to look around and identify things that are wrong with the world and with others. But Jesus directs us to look first at ourselves. Before we can effectively address the fault in our stars, we must face the fault in ourselves.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
Scripture highlights a universal truth about the human condition: None of us is what we should be. Whether a short temper, a lustful eye, a haughty heart, a lying tongue, or some combination of these and other issues, each of us lives with a sickness of the soul – a sickness that keeps us from loving God as we are meant to love him.
When the body is sick, we who desire health will attack the sickness in multiple ways. We take our medicine, do our exercises, get plenty of rest, eat healthy, and whatever else the medical professionals tell us we must do. Similarly, sickness of the soul requires focus, energy, and action. It also requires honesty about the seriousness of our condition. The soul that is not carefully tended to—the soul whose health is not consistently fought for—will erode spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and in every other way. This is why the fight against the wrong in us is a most important and necessary fight. Emotionally intelligent and spiritually healthy people answer the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” in the same way that Chesterton is said to have answered the same: