It seems to me we live in a culture that celebrates the victim. Now, I believe in standing up for the oppressed. I am not speaking about overlooking those that are oppressed or struggling. I speaking of a person holding a $5 coffee with all the extras telling me that they are broke. It just seems that it is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on how bad you have it. The Bible calls followers of Jesus to have a different mindset.
This past week we launched a new series “Rising Above the Conflict.” It is a study based on the book of Galatians. This past week as we unpacked Paul’s greeting to the church I was reminded that we are definitely not victims. It hit me that even those that face persecution, who have every right to play the victim card, are challenged to embrace who they really are in Christ, a victor. Paul puts it this way, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” (Galatians 1:3–4)
There are three observations that scream out to me that, “I am a victor!” as a follower of Jesus. First, Christ gave himself for us for our sins. Now life can be brutal. But our struggles loose their significance when we realize that we are right with the Creator. The Bible reminds us that we are adopted into His family. We enjoy all the rights and privileges as a result. I am reminded of a saying I like, “This life is the only heaven that the non-Christian will ever know, and it is the only Hell that the believer will know!” It is amazing what we are able to endure when we have hope that things will get better. Our hope is not based on positive or wishful thinking but on God’s promises. It reminds me that I am a vicor.
Second. We are reminded that the work of Jesus on our behalf has “delivered us” from “the present evil age.” We are reminded that while we live in the world, our relationship with Christ, allows up to live above it. The term delivered can be translated “rescued” but I like the translation “lifted up.” We are reminded that we can live above the conflict that penetrates every area of our lives. The theme song of the follower of Christ is not “nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms…” No, It is the reality that I am a child of the King of Kings. I am a victor!
And this leads us to the foundation truth supporting the first two reasons why I am not a victim but a victor. God’s will is being played out in my life. The Bible reminds us that God is aware of our struggles and is working to make us more Godly through them. Paul reminded the Corinthians, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) When you understand the word used here for “temptation” could also be translated “testing“ you begin to grasp the significance of this verse. God is faithful is another way of reminding us that God is in control. It is here that we are called to trust Him and let Him guide us through our struggles. And it is this act of submission to His will where we begin to live as a Victor.
So what is the challenge in your life right now? Who is the person that is the source of your grief? Could it be that this person or situation is in your life right now because God is working. A victor embraces what God is doing!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson