Monday, June 23, 2008

He who prevails!

Rev 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

We are currently conducting our annual VBS at our church (that's "Vacation Bible School" for all you folks living under the proverbial rock). The theme for this year's VBS is "Game Day", with most of the materials containing a sports motif. Many are surprised to learn how many terms from athletic contests are within the pages of the bible. Today, I want to focus on the word translated as "overcome" in our English bibles. The Greek word is nikao (nik-ah'-o) and it is defined as the following:

"To conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory"

Every promise of life and blessing in the book of Revelation is made to the "overcomers". The fact that the bible uses this terminology should give us some healthy indication of what we should expect as normative of the Christian life. Despite all of the admonitions and warnings in scripture about the struggles of life, followers of Christ still stand amazed at the difficulties that they face on a daily basis. Opponents are easily identified in athletic games. Whether it is two opposing individuals or teams, the contestants are easily recognizable. It's not always that easy in the walk of faith.

Sometimes we stand squarely against demonic powers. Ephesians chapter 6 outlines the invisible armies of darkness that stand ready to oppose and "wrestle" with us at every turn. Other times, we struggle with our own doubts or fears. Sometimes the opponent is disguised as an unhealthy appetite for the things of this present world. Regardless of the face(s) of the opponent, we have no other option but to prevail. Admittedly, I'm a lover of stories that contain epic battles between good and evil. The greatest and most appealing are usually those in which the "good guy" must overcome insurmountable odds and defeat a physically superior foe with sheer will-power, faith, and determination.

I think we fail to realize that we are in a contest because our opponents are invisible. An ungodly attitude doesn't always come at you like a powerful left hook to the jaw. A soul-warring habit doesn't always stand squarely in front of you like a boxer in the ring. But that doesn't mean it's any less of a real and valid contest, where the stakes are life-or-death. Paul said in I Corinthians 9 that he doesn't run aimlessly or fight as one beating (or boxing) the air. Whatever opponent(s) you are facing today, remember that your victory is found in the person of Jesus.

John 16:33
33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (NKJ)