Some things are worth fighting for, and some things aren’t. On a recent trip to Germany our group was reminded of some men who fought battles over things that were worth fighting for. We visited sites that were significant in the life of Martin Luther. The man who led the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s battled over things that truly mattered. He caused an uproar in the church because people were not being taught the truth about how their sins could be forgiven. They were being misled about how they could be in a right relationship with God. Luther courageously charged into battle over truths that were of eternal importance.
On the trip we visited the Wartburg Castle where Luther was hid away for almost a year. While there he translated the Bible into the common German so that the common man could read it. Doing the translation was a challenge, but getting the Bible into a language people could understand was a battle worth taking on.
We visited Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s house, which is now a museum. Bonhoeffer was one of the first pastors in Germany who spoke out against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Bonhoeffer could have stayed in the safety of the United States or England during World War 2, but he chose to return to Germany to pastor and serve his people. Some in Germany knew Hitler was evil, but they didn’t have the courage to speak out against him. They ran from the battle. Their bodies stayed safe but their souls were full of guilt. Bonhoeffer took on the battle. He died a martyr’s death at the hands of the Nazis, but his soul was at peace, by God’s grace.
Luther and Bonhoeffer took on challenges that were worth the struggle. Sadly many get involved in battles that are pointless. Some fight a “valiant struggle” to make sure silk flowers don’t appear in the church sanctuary during a worship service. The Bible is pretty quiet about silk flowers. Some battle over carpet color or what brand of coffee to serve. Does it really matter?
“No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs” (II Timothy 2:4). We pray for wisdom to discern what are “civilian affairs” that should not distract us. We pray we would not fall into the trap of letting minor matters became the cause of major disputes. Let us be willing to not get our way and lose out on the insignificant issues. Let us instead be the type of people President Theodore Roosevelt described: a man “… who spends himself in a worthy cause.”
Jesus knows what battles matter. People wanted Him to take on the Roman Empire. He didn’t get involved in that battle. He came to take on sin and death. That is the battle He fought and won. Because He won the battle that mattered, we don’t get too worked up about the unimportant disputes. We devote our time and energies to the big challenges: proclaiming the good news of Jesus, building up God’s church and loving people.