“More than conquerors. . .”

Many believers languish in the backwater lagoons of the Christian life because they never really lay hold on God’s promises. It is so easy to get caught up with the day to day scene (“seen”) that we miss the unseen. So we live in a kind of frustration,

not really understanding how faith works, or even what to expect.

Paul calls believers “more than conquerors” in Romans 8:37, but who among us feels like a conqueror these days? Many feel so beaten down from the fear of catching a virus or worse, the precautions deemed necessary for keeping everyone “safe,” that the very idea of conquering anything sounds bizarre.

They are in a sort of bomb-shelter or storm-cellar mentality, hoping that the present crisis will soon be over, whether by some miracle vaccine or else that somehow the virus will run its course. They are immobilized by a fear that displaces any semblance of joy. They have been conquered.

It is precisely here where faith could help us, if we but understand its nature. The Bible is clear that faith is apprehending what is NOT seen, things that are happening all around us which form the backdrop to events small and great.

In fact, Paul’s declaration of our conquest comes on the heels of some very, very bad news (Romans 8:36): “As it is written, we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” His words remind us of Jesus’ own in Luke 21:16-19. Jesus is warning of the persecution which will come in the last days: “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”

Jesus, what does it mean that we will be killed, but our hair not harmed? How does that work? Doesn’t death trump a bad hair day? Clearly, He is contrasting our physical lives with the salvation of our souls. Our life is expendable and death, one way or another, is certain. Eternal life, however, is what we can’t see, and what no one can touch. Jesus is telling us, just as Paul has told us, that our victory triumphs over everything, even death itself. See 1 Corinthians 15.

So here are two things to think about as we begin the new year. First, if we are immobilized by our present set of outward circumstances, how do you think we will do when persecution finally does come to us, as it already has come, for example, to believers who have been slaughtered by the thousands in Nigeria? Did you even know that was happening all of 2020?

Second, what is the condition of our faith in “overcoming” or “conquering” the world? Are we bearing witness to God’s faithfulness or are we responding merely as the world?

Of course, none of this means we should take up the foolish habits of the snake-handlers, disregarding personal safety for a kind of show-off faith which is presumption, not true faith at all. But it may mean re-examining whether our life is one of courage or fear.

“For everyone who has been born of God
overcomes (lit, “conquers”) the world.
And this is the victory (conquest)
that overcomes (conquers) the world–our faith.”
1 John 5:4

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