“…Everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in Me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in Me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33, Passion Bible)
Sometime late Saturday morning, I realized that my mind was very distracted by things I preferred not to think much about. I found myself having imaginary conversations in my head responding to things external to me, yet impactful upon me and others. These were not idle or flighty reflections, but burdensome concerns that weigh heavily on me. They are concerns about separation and walls of division, resentment and anger, frustration, dreams threatened to be dashed, and more. I was mentally heading down an increasingly an undesirable path. In a flash, this thought came like a screen shot: I need to overcome the world, not be overcome by it. Have you ever experienced this? I’m so grateful the Holy Spirit does remind us of what we’ve been taught and the reality is I’ve been on the receiving end of much light and truth (John 14:26).
I think sometimes it is easy to forget that there is a wide, wide, really, really wide gulf between the morality and the values of the kingdom of GOD and the morality and values of the kingdoms of the world. In fact, I believe the gulf is insurmountable apart from Jesus (John 15:5). Jesus didn’t come to reconcile the two but to reveal, with utmost clarity, the distinction between them (“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34, NIV) and to be the bridge to any who wanted a place in GOD’s kingdom.
The challenge of being in the world, but not of it is in managing the tension caused by the troubles and sorrows that plague us. By managing, I mean not being absorbed by them, not being overwhelmed by them. So often, they seem unmanageable, like an unstoppable steamroller, which is a source for so much of our inner stress. We can’t stop thinking about what we know is wrong, inherently and from observation and experience, because it seems to be omnipresent. The feeling of being absorbed and overwhelmed becomes more of a reality. We ache for something from the world that the world cannot offer: peace, goodness, mutual courtesy and respect, righteousness, and justice. The world sometimes even scoffs when we express these desires.
“But you must be courageous…” It occurs to me that Jesus is saying the same thing that the Father said to Joshua as he was assuming leadership of the Israelites after the death of Moses. The need for courage was a constant admonition to the people of GOD even as He promised them that He would be with them, i.e. be their unseen source of power and strength. Jesus promised that He would never leave or forsake His followers; He would be a constant presence in our lives, our unseen source of power and strength. So, if He overcame (conquered) the world, and He is a constant presence in my, your, our life/lives then, ipso facto, I, you, we too can be overcoming conquerors.
I’m thankful this gracious reminder for it refreshes my hope. May confidence in and consciousness of Jesus be constant in your life and mind.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2020. All rights reserved to text content.