In Praise of Fighting

By Paul Koch

My good friend and I had just finished our weekly taco Tuesday ritual. We were chatting in the parking lot when I asked him what was up. Clearly something had been bothering him. It wasn’t that he was some emotional wreck or anything, just that he seemed a bit unsettled, which is not like him. He spoke some about being unsure of what was wrong. He wasn’t thrilled about things in life and the routines that he had fallen into. Perhaps it was work, needing a vacation, or maybe a chance to reexamine career goals.

However, he is my friend, a real friend, the type that would help you bury the body and ask very few questions. So, I suggested a less conventional option. I said, “I think you need to get into a fight.” He pondered that suggestion for a few moments and then confessed, “That is exactly what I need. A good pop in the mouth would really clear things up.”

There are times when a fight, a real and powerful struggle with an external force, is not only beneficial but necessary. A fight has a way of clearly establishing what is important and what is not. As Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Getting smacked by something external causes you to reexamine your plan or perhaps simply react by falling back on well-practiced habits. Either way, you can no longer live within your own head. Plotting and scheming come to and abrupt end when decisive action is called for. Fighting brings into sharp contrast what is within your sphere of control and what is not.

Today we fight through virtual means. We get into bold arguments on Twitter feeds or call names in Instagram comments. We go to war in video games and conquer the world on our laptops. We fight without any external consequences. It used to be that a fight was part of basic survival skills, something everyone needed to have some mastery over for it would be called upon from time to time. It would be used to establish leadership and inspire acts of courage. These days, in our lives of ease and comfort, we must seek out the fight or get lost within ourselves.

It is no fun to be lost within yourself. It is a pathway to despair. It means that all you have is your feelings and your wish dreams. It means that you are carried along by others and caught in the powerful flow of the masses. This means that you have no control or influence upon how things are going to play out.

But to fight is to take a stand. To fight is to resist and establish your will apart from the masses. This is not easy. It may hurt, and it may cost you, but it will be worth it. For it is in the fight that the theoretical is separated from the real. In the fight is where the proverbial rubber hits the road.

This ought to be part and parcel of the Christian life. After all, we are those who cling to the external. We despair of what is within, what comes from our own cleverness and creativity and wishing. We hope, rather, in an external Word. A Word that can kill and bring forth new life. A Word that can leave us wounded and hurt in a puddle on the ground and then bind up our wounds and raise us up in glorious victory.

We must surround ourselves with brothers and sisters that are willing to fight, and willingly go to a church that is ready to bloody your nose and embrace you in victory. I hope that when you get caught up within your own head there is one who will shake you back to reality. In fact, a real friend would lace up a pair of gloves with a smile on his face and bring you some clarity.