Hi, and welcome back! After our last visit, and our previous discussion about some of the more depressing aspects of the Christian life, I wasn’t altogether sure that you would be back. But, I am glad that you weren’t scared off because today, I want to talk to you about one of the most positive and exciting realities of our Christian experience. In fact, what I have to share today is so good that we may have to once again resort to the use of sound effects!
Before we get to all of that, however, let’s take a moment to review what we talked about last time—which is, Jesus and all of the humiliation, rejection, opposition, and affliction that He suffered on the way to the Cross. Although experiences such as these do not make for the most pleasant or popular of topics, we need to recognize them for what they are—as some of the most vital components of a truly successful Christian life. For it is through experiences such as these that God has chosen to work out His plan for our lives; a plan which is nothing less than the slow but steady refashioning of us into the image of Christ. As to just what that image is, I believe that if we were to consider for one moment how Christ triumphed over every obstacle that stood between Him and the completion of His mission, a mission which ultimately ended with His victory over death itself—then we would have to agree that the image He modeled for us most consistently was that of an overcomer.
I bet you didn’t realize it at the time but, when you became a Christian, you also became an overcomer, just like Jesus. That’s because, before you could even come to faith in Christ, you had to overcome three really big obstacles; or, the things that the Bible refers to as “the world, the flesh, and the devil.” What that means is that on your way to the Cross, you had to overcome the downward pull of the world and its culture, the inward pull of your sinful human nature , plus all of the obstacles that were placed in your path by the devil solely for the purpose of keeping you away from Jesus. And, since all of this was being accomplished over the course of time, you probably had no idea at all that this was what you were actually doing.
As I was thinking about this initial process of overcoming, an illustration of it came to my mind from the strangest place. My mind flashed back to one of the old Three Stooges’ routines that my brother used to love to watch when we were growing up; and the one that came to mind was probably their most popular one, the “Niagara Falls” skit. You may not be old enough to have seen it but every time Moe hears Curly say, “Niagara Falls,” he replies in a long, drawn-out fashion, “S-l-o-w-l-y I turn, step-by-step, inch-by- inch…,” and then, Pow! he beats Curly to a pulp. As I thought about it, it occurred to me that this is exactly what happens to us on our own treks to the Cross and toward our new identities as overcomers. S-l-o-w-l-y, we turn…away from the world, step-by-step…we begin to realize how futile it is for us to try to control our sinful natures on our own, and inch-by-inch…we crawl over and around (and maybe even under!) the obstacles placed in our paths by the devil. Finally, when we get to Jesus and give our hearts to Him, POW POW! He beats the devil to a pulp—again—and then ushers us into the most unique club of all—The Overcomer’s Club!
The reason I know that this is the most unique club going is because only those who have been bought with the precious blood of the Son of God can get in; and only those who have passed from death to life and from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light are qualified for membership. It is also unique in the fact that, as part of the initiation process into the club, each and every member becomes the new dwelling place for, and also becomes empowered by, the Holy Spirit of God Himself; a dynamic reality which makes it possible for them to fulfill their new responsibilities as members and to carry out the mission of the organization. Their responsibilities? To overcome the flesh by the Spirit, to overcome evil with good, and to overcome the deception and darkness in the world with the light of the truth. And the mission? To bring to Jesus as many new members as possible.
Wow! What a great club to be a part of! That being said, though… how’s the overcoming and recruiting going over by you?
Like Jesus, we are overcomers, as Mandisa reminds us in “Overcomer.”