Somehow, I felt that I should write about what the Holy Spirit is illuminating me about how to face what is ahead as I read Scriptures. This and subsequent posts will feature my insights of my daily reading of Scripture.
The first truth: But take heart! I have overcome the world
Before Jesus was arrested, he spent time with his disciples. During that time, he told them what to expect — some of the persecution they will suffer in His Name. In John 16:1, he explains why he gave them a picture of what they will face: “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away.” In verse 33, he reassures them again: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The reason why Jesus gave us a glimpse of the future is to help us be prepared to face it and not lose faith — not fall away! When we see how bad the future is going to be, any human being will lose heart. That’s the normal reaction. But, it takes faith in Him, not to lose heart! And that is what is needed to face an uncertain future — a heart that is steady in Him because it hasn’t lost heart.
We do not lose heart because we believe in Him who has overcome the world. That is the foundational truth on which we put our faith in Him and face a world full of hidden and blatant dangers — the fact that He has overcome the world.
What does it mean to “overcome the world”? Does it mean that in Him we will have no troubles? Certainly not. We know that after Jesus said John 16:33 he was arrested and crucified. The disciples were scattered but regrouped after the coming of the Holy Spirit and then they went to the ends of the Earth, spreading the Name of Jesus Christ and were persecuted and eventually martyred. Though our Lord Jesus Christ overcame the world, his disciples still faced brutalities from people who opposed them.
What then did they experience of Him having overcome the world? They were empowered by the truth that Jesus overcame the world and they could do the same. Just as the apostles, disciples and first Christians faced and overcame their worlds, we, the last Christians, can do the same in Him.
I was speaking to a friend about how terrible it was that the Islamic State terrorists were chopping off the heads of captured Christians (and others). He, a senior pastor, calmly replied: “You know, middle-eastern Christians are not like us. They don’t have a problem dying for the faith.”
Because of their faith in Christ, they had peace in their hearts, so they could face their circumstances, and, in doing so, they, too, overcame the world.
This is the first truth we need to learn as we face the future. Jesus has overcome the world; we, too, can do the same. In Him, we, too, can find the peace within to face up to our realities and not lose heart and keep the faith till the end. When we do that, it is really the power of God enabling us.