Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Identity # 19 - The Overcomer


                                                                 (Grand Haven, Michigan)

In John 16 Jesus tells his apprentices that what he has just taught them (chapters 14 and 15) is to prepare them for suffering that will be coming their way, as they proclaim the message of the gospel.

In 16:1-4 Jesus says,

“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them."

More precisely, just what has Jesus taught the apprentices? He has instructed them to live an abiding life, a connected-to-Jesus life, as a branch is connected to a vine. As they are connected, their lives will bear much fruit. But, should they disconnect, they are "worthless." (Jesus said this, not me, in 15:6.)

It was a dangerous time to be a follower of Jesus. Yet, the disciples are, in reality, overcomers. God has made his home in them. 

In Galatians 2:20 Paul echoes this reality, as he writes, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." And, Jesus is "the one who overcomes the world." (16:33)

Dallas Willard writes,

"As God’s redemptive work progresses, communion with God advances to union with God. When the progression is complete we can truly say, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 NRSV) and “For to me, living is Christ” (Philippians 1:21 NRSV). When communion advances into union, the sense of “mine” and “thine” may often be absent. There is only “ours.”" (Willard, Hearing God Through the Year: A 365-Day Devotional, p. 224)

Today we face a pandemic, racial tension, economic uncertainties, violence in our city streets, school closings, and more. Yet, in the midst of these swirling, chaotic waters, Christ, the Overcomer, resides in the depths of our being. You, and I, belong to him. He is the Vine, we are the branches. Thus, we share in his being, his character, his glory, his power.

His overcoming.

I am an overcomer. You too, in Christ.

This is what Paul echoes when he says, "I can do all things, in Christ, who strengthens me!"


My two books are...

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

I am now writing How God Changes the Human Heart