Most of us have heard at least one sermon on the Greek word “ekklesia.” We know that it has to do with being “called out,” and that it means the assembly of those called to be in Christ. We use that word to describe the Church.
I like to look at this term, “called out” from a different perspective, also.
In the jargon of the day, to call out is to challenge; often in the context of a fight. It means something like: “You and me behind the school at 3 o’clock.” The fact of the matter is that the Church is both corporately and individually, a bunch of people who’ve been challenged to a fight.
The several Greek words for fight are used sparingly. There is, however, a lot of military imagery, as in Ephesians 6:10-18, in which we are told to wear armor – and to “stand firm.” Them’s fightin’ words!
Other fighting words are found in, 1 Tim. 6:12, in which we read:
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which
you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Taking hold of the eternal life to which we are called includes fighting the good fight of faith. It means standing up to the predominant culture when it besmirches the Name of Jesus; when it ridicules the Church (not that we haven’t called a good bit of ridicule on ourselves); when it demeans members of the Church for their faith.
Paul explains this concept of fighting for the faith further when he w
ites to his young protegé Timothy, in 2 Tim. 4:7:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
To Paul, keeping the faith included having fought the good fight. Being a member of the Church, those called out by God, means fighting the good fight.
One final, and obvious, example will be offered here. It is found in Jude 3. Here we find this challenge:
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
How do we, who are members of the Church, called out both in the sense of being part of the assembly and in the sense of being challenged, contend for the faith? Learn it; understand it; act as a body as we fight on behalf of the Church. It is the role of the Church, individually and corporately to contend for the Church itself; to stand up for the Church; to understand the proper role and authority of the Church; to behave as though the Church is something special – because it is.
The Church is under extreme pressure from the dominant culture today. Challenges to out way of life and our beliefs abound. Christian merchants are not allowed to act according to their beliefs without threat of governmental oppression. Marriage has been fundamentally lettered into something that God’s Word does not recognize as valid. Human life is not viewed as sacred, but as something that is both dispensable and profitable.
In the movie “On the Waterfront,” Marlon Brando uttered the famous line: “I coulda been a contender.” That means he could have fought for the title. We don’t have to fight for the title. It is already won by the blood of Jesus, which purchased the Church. We still need, however, to be contenders.