Friday, January 24, 2014

Overcome the world

"…I have overcome the world." John 16:33.
These words from Jesus are meant to be a comfort to us, aren't they? While speaking to His disciples in John 16, Jesus is warning them that He is going away, physically speaking, but that He will send to them the Holy Spirit. He tells them about the peace they will receive in the Holy Spirit. Lastly, He assures them that even in the midst of trouble they can rest in that peace because the world and all of its trials are already overcome.
This should provide a soft pillow for the children of God to rest their heads upon. The battle has been fought. the war is won. The victory is ours. Hallelujah! Now I can curl up, get comfortable and sleep like a baby.
But in the name of full disclosure I must admit that I don't always rest easy in this truth. In fact, there are times I don't want to have to cling to this scripture at all. In the midst of my suffering and trials I want to tell God, "Look, I know you have overcome and that's great. I'm glad. But I'm a little tired of being the poster child for all of this overcoming power. So I have an idea… You can go overcome in someone else's life for a little while and I'll just take a little break. You can lay off the trials so I can get a breather and you go use someone else as a testimony for a bit. I'd really appreciate that. Thanks."
Yes, I know, these are terrible prayers! Full disclosure, remember? That means the good, bad and ugly and I know, that prayer falls into the latter category.
On my own stamina I am nothing but a coward. Instead of proclaiming victory I want to hide in a corner. "Come get me when the storm is past" is the sign that I wear, covering my human flesh like a sandwich board. Admittedly, sometimes I forget that I no longer wear just my human flesh. I forget that the old sign has been removed and thrown away. My sign has been replaced, my body and spirit made new.
Inscribed on my heart is the peace of God. He has removed my cowardly, fearful, weak, faint-hearted (insert your favorite word to describe lack of courage) human nature and replaced it with His spirit of peace. When I look to myself to find overcoming strength all I come up with is weakness.
True strength that can give us peace comes from looking at the beginning of that scripture in John 16:33. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble…." Peace isn't found in ourselves. It can't be dependent on our circumstances. We can't find it by hiding in our closets with a blanket over our heads. Peace is found in Jesus Christ.
When we read this scripture we might want to run the other direction, away from the trouble. The peace sounds divine but the trouble sounds terrifying. Dear Reader, God wants to use our trials as a testimony of His power. This is a great privilege and honor. Human beings - weak, faint and sinful - are His preferred method of use for displaying His world dominating power. Through Jesus Christ, you have overcome of the world. Through the power of Jesus Christ living in and through you, you will defeat the darkness of this world. Your victory won't be for your glory. It can't be on your own because you are utterly weak, doomed to be on the losing side. But when you are in Jesus Christ you are victorious already.
In moments of weakness when you're are tempted to revert to weak human and cowardly ways, remember the great privilege that is being bestowed on you in the midst of your struggle and the peace that is available. God is using you to show the world that He is still Lord, still reigning, still all-powerful. The most daunting trials are the greatest stories of God's overcoming power. This is wonderful news for the suffering Christian. Every struggle is an amazing role in telling the victorious story of Jesus Christ.
Friend, come out from your hiding place. Remove the blanket that you are cowering underneath. You are an overcomer through Jesus Christ. You can have peace while He overcomes for you. Through Jesus Christ you can have limitless strength that defeats the darkness of the world and proclaims God King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God wants to make you part of that. Praise the Lord!

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