Today’s reflection comes from Paul Martin. Thank you, Paul.
Is victorious living a reality or a pretence for you? Barry gave me (and possibly you as well) a lot to think about on Sunday! He highlighted the role of faith because the verses he used included this: This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4)
Fortunately, this is not any kind of faith in myself – victory that way would definitely be a pretence! The faith involved is made explicit in the next verse: Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. It is plain, then, that the victory we live in is the victory Jesus won. He was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4) and that is the victory which overcomes the world.
So, the question is, how does the resurrection of Jesus translate into my victory? Barry mentioned one possibility, that it is a victory still to come when I am raised to a new sinless life, untouched by the struggles of life here on earth. Because Jesus was resurrected, I too will be resurrected one day. However, the downside of this is that I have to wait for the victory.
Quite rightly, Barry dismissed this option: we can live victoriously now. We should be living “above the circumstances” not defeated by them. This is where the pretence can come in. My defence mechanism when I am suffocated by life (another memorable phrase from Sunday!) is to pretend to other people and myself that everything’s fine. Let me sing a heart-stirring song or two and I can almost believe it! But it’s not real and often by Monday morning the illusion has evaporated.
What’s real faith and real victory? It begins with honesty and truth: I need to admit to myself, to the Lord and to other people (if that’s appropriate) that although “I’m on the victory side”, I am not experiencing that victory in my life here and now. I’m not going to beat myself up over this (that’s what Satan would want me to do) but I’m returning to the empty tomb and to Jesus. He won the victory over sin and death for me (and for you) so I place myself in him. I remind myself “I have been crucified with Christ” (meaning my old nature is now dead, it’s no longer who I am) and “I have been raised with him”. That new creation is who I am now and the power that raised Jesus from the dead is now in me.
Every time I do this, and believe me that’s very often, it’s an act of faith. It’s a conscious decision to live in a new way, to walk “in the Spirit”. If it depended on me I would stumble again at the first hurdle but I don’t believe in me, I believe in Jesus the Son of God. That is how I overcome the world. Romans 8:37 says “we are more than conquerors” but this intriguing phrase is grist for another reflection!