Monday, February 08, 2016

Identity in Christ - 60 (Triumphant)

Since, Rome was an empire, periodically, there was a campaign to extend the empire. If the campaign was successful, the general who was responsible took a "victory lap." That is, he was the head of a parade around the city of Rome. In the parade, besides the general, instead of floats and bands, the spoils of war were presented. There were prisoners, usually the leaders of the conquered people, and collection of the riches of the country, Riches being whatever was valued by that people: precious metals, gems, artifacts, or art. (Maybe, the prisoners were displayed, because they were honored or valued men.)

The Kingdom of heaven is locked a "to the death" war with the kingdom of the world and the enemy. The goals are different. (Restoration of God's kingdom. Reclaiming God's family.) The tactics are different. (Feeding people -- bodies, minds, and souls. Education. Healing -- bodies, minds, and souls.) The weapons are different. (Love. Prayer. Service. Proclamation.) Yet, it is still war.

The passage we are using says that Christ leads in victory. It is a picture of the Roman "victory lap." Jesus is the victorious general, marching in front. But what are the spoils of war? What are the objects of value being displayed behind him? The objects are not precious metals, stones, or art. The "objects" are people.

This war is over the hearts and minds of people. Each battle is over one person; each side fighting urgently to command the allegiance of that person.

God's Perspective

When someone competes and wins a great athletic contest (the World Cup, the Super Bowl, the Olympics) millions of people watch and celebrate even though they did not exert one erg of energy in the competition.

Celebration seems to be a natural human response. (Instinct?) It occurs among all human peoples. People identify with positive achievements, and somehow claim a piece of them. It seems to be something that God has built into people. Celebration is a natural response.

And God is pointing out a reason for celebration, even though it has not happened yet. It the World Cup final. The game is in overage time, The score is 3-0, and your time is winning. It is the Super Bowl. The referee has called time out for the two minute warning, and your team is ahead by 3 scores. You can feel the celebration coming.

God commends celebration. We can celebrate God's ultimate victory. We can celebrate victory over each battle. (God's reclamation of another person. A step of restoration in each person's life.) We can celebrate our allegiance to the Father, and personal restoration.

Living My Life

Life in Jesus is intended to be one long, never ending celebration. Positive things should be happening in our lives. Positive things should be happening in the lives of others. Positive things should be happening in the world.

When we look at the world, most people see only the evil, the setbacks, the failures, and the disasters. One of the results of life in God is joy. If our hearts are focused on God's presence in our lives, if our identity is founded on our relationship with the Father, joy becomes a normal state.

Too many of God's family focus their hearts on circumstances, and find their identity in something other than their relationship with the Father. Joy is lost. Is it any wonder the enemy seeks to capture -- if he is not already totally in control of -- the news media? Should we be surprised if he seeks similar control of social media?

Life is going to be filled with trouble, because of sin. Life is supposed to be love, joy, and peace. Life is supposed to be celebration. And life can be. It is why Scripture says we need to guard our hearts. We guard them by what fills them, what they are focused on.

As people live from their hearts -- fruit, growth, obedience are all products of what flows from the heart -- someone's connection with the Father takes on a greater level of significance and importance. And celebration (what, how, and how often) becomes indicators of the state of that connection.

There is a difference between the mission of God in the Super Bowl. In the Super Bowl, we can all celebrate the victory, but we cannot all participate in the victory. Participation belongs only to the players and coaches. In the mission of God, we can all celebrate and we can all participate. God's mission encompasses all of God's children. It is our allegiance, becoming God's child that puts us on the field.

How we participate is different. (Lineman. Receiver. Defense. Special teams.) Keep in mind:
(1) We are on the team.
(2) There are some skills everyone on the team should have.
(3) There is a special place for each of us.
(4) We choose to exercise our parts, to be on the team.
(5) Guard your hearts.

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