Wednesday, March 8, 2017

On the Battlefield

When we become Christians we enter into a new set of relationships. We become children of the eternal God (John 1:12,13). As such, other believers become our family (1 John 2:7-11). We also become ambassadors of Christ to those on the outside (2 Corinthians 5:20). But we obtain a new enemy, too (1 Peter 5:8,9). Far from setting the Christian in a position of safety and security, putting faith in Christ sets them in the midst of a battlefield (Ephesians 6:10-13). This is not what we want to hear. We would like to be told that once we have come to know the true God, the King of the Universe, everything from there on will be a calm and uneventful sail over placid seas into a safe harbor. Some would even try to maintain we can, on the basis of God being our Father, claim health, wealth, and a Mercedes in the color of our choice. But even those of us who reflexively shrink away from going that far can often still be guilty of painting the Christian life as some idyllic state where everything runs smoothly and we have minor bumps but no serious problems. However, Scripture leads us to expect trouble in this life (John 16:33). 

The reason is that we live in enemy-occupied territory. God is the great King, the Lord of the universe to whom all rule rightfully belongs (Psalms 47:2). But as a result of the Fall (Genesis 3:1-7), Satan has made himself god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and has enslaved people to his rule (Hebrews 2:15). However, Christ by His death on the cross and His resurrection was victorious over sin, death, and Satan (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14; 2 Corinthians 2:14). Further, when Christ returns He will be the absolute conqueror over all these things (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; Revelation 21:1-5; Philippians 3:20-21). But right now we are living between the accomplishment and the realization of the victory. One question sometimes asked is whether Christianity is a defender of the status quo or a rebellion against the current system. The answer is we are the resistance. We are those who oppose the usurper on behalf of the rightful King. Therefore, we are at odds with the system as it exists now (1 John 2:15-17), but we oppose it in the name of an older rule whose principles, even under the occupation, are still to some extent recognized (Romans 2:14-16).

Therefore, it is not surprising that in this situation we have trials. We need to see these trials as being minor in terms of the glory we will ultimately enjoy (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18). And we need to realize that God is using these troubles to make us into the kind of people He wants us to be (Romans 5:3,4; 8:28-30; James 1:2-4). For only then can we have the perspective to face the battle in which we will ultimately be victorious (Romans 8:37).

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