Sunset over Hay Bluff. Image credit: Ian Greig

God is loving, powerful ‚ and gracious. But there's a part that only we can do

Revelation 3:21 NLT
Those who are victorious will sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat with My Father on His throne.

The present pandemic is a race. The virus is finding new ways to spread and infect — and we have the answered prayer of effective vaccines which have been developed and approved in record time.

But it is not just a race, but also a battle: between the author of sickness, death and hardship, and God who is kind and forgiving and who sent His own Son to be our means of salvation. This spiritual battle is positionally won, by Jesus, dying on a cross, on the execution site called the Place of the Skull.

But not everyone knows that. So it is that the devil, whose scheme to control and oppress people was ended on that hill at the moment when Christ said, "It is finished", can continue to cause havoc. He has free reign all the  time we don't have eyes to see what is going on, or the faith to say 'no' the latest misery.

So the victory of who rules has been won by Jesus Christ. It was a conclusive victory. A bit like a former US president, the loser continues to claim a different result, but we can refute that with the facts.

And that is the the other battle,  the one in which we need to be victorious by our  believing the truth and asserting it.

The words that Christ spoke in our verse were said to a rather posh and proud church in Laodicea. The people were relatively well-off and did not willingly see themselves as needy — or needing anything in particular. They didn't need the refined gold of Christ's gift to them. They felt they were well-dressed and not needing the white clothes of His salvation, even though to more spiritual eyes they were shamefully naked and exposed. They didn't seek His attention to their eyes, although they were spiritually blind.

This is a picture of the fundamental nature of sin. It is self-sufficient independence that doesn't want to bend, in showing any reliance on God.

Coming back to our pandemic, the morning after the Prime Minister's evening broadcast to the nation, one view is  that we have the science, and the statistical modelling skills, and we can borrow more money: so better times are ahead, and we can beat it.

A Christian view would be looking at the bigger picture. This includes the spiritual dimension that is always behind everything that plays out in our lives, good or bad. There is a spiritual battle going on, and our resolute believing, or our wavering unbelief, determines how it will go.

Jesus says: "To  the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne." He is saying that if we steadfastly declare our reliance on God, standing in the truth of what Jesus has done for us, not being swayed by the setbacks or reports of new variants, or the increasing risk, and not putting our trust in uncertain science alone — then we can share in the victory He has already won.

That is where inner peace, in this storm, is found. It is knowing who we are in Christ, knowing who we are in Him, knowing that whatever is happening out there, He has a plan and is over it all.

This particular battle is being slugged out in our thoughts. And we can choose what we are thinking about — dependent  on Christ but also having a confidence in Him, or being pulled about and kept awake and pushed into depression by the media's preoccupation with 'agony stories' and perceived failures.

The enemy is speaking into our thoughts all the time, or all the time we let him, anyway. He'll keep on shouting that he won, and he 'won big'. But we don't have to believe that. The Holy Spirit also inspires our thought life. He will remind us of who Christ is, why He is sitting on the heavenly throne, and how He has out all things under His feet — the ultimate authority, Ephesians 1:22. More than this, as we stay true to Him -- as we are victorious — we get to sit alongside Him on His throne. Now all the doubts and despairs and fear are under OUR feet, and we can join Jesus in saying 'no' to them. (Ephesians 1:22, 2:6)

This is not gung-ho, it is the quiet confidence that comes from humility — humility that agrees that my failure is overcome by His victory. The reliance that says that I need Christ and His lordship every  hour of my life and in every decision and action. It is the quietness that admits that we can't, but He can. It is the lack of pretension that follows the science and the medicine but thanks God that it has all come from Him.

And it is humble faithfulness that recognises that there's a part which only we can do, and that is to remain resolute in believing and trusting — and praying.

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