7th Place

 By G.P. Avants

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil, with good.”

Romans 12:21 

In the Book of Revelation we get a view into the seven churches of Asia which really is more like an amazing look into the spiritual dimension represented in the physical world. Some say these are more than just seven key churches from which the Gospel went out into all the world. They could also represent the historical progression of the church from its inception into the End Times. If you want to get even more personal, you could say that each church represents individual believers and how they respond to their call from God. Who’s to say that the seven churches could be on many levels simultaneously? 

This is the fifth entry in the Overcome series. In these twelve posts we are looking at the way the individual believer as well as the church universal faces the End Times. Will they be overcome by the world and all the influences speaking into their lives, or will they heed the warnings Christ has given them and become the overcomers He has called them to be? 

With the idea that the seven churches represent the body of Christ and His work on Earth, how does it all translate into our times? Well the early church definitely had a closer walk with the Lord in a dark and depraved world. As time went by the church went in and out of season, in and out of step with the world around it. Think about the ages past with kingdoms rising and falling, wars and times of peace, healthy societies and worldwide pandemics…oh, yes isn’t that on our doorstep right now? The church has been there and will be there to the end. So, here is the thing. How can you tell what season we are in? Look at the condition of the church.

Just so you know as I write this out, I am being super prayerful how to make this as concise and meaningful all within a short blog piece. It’s not easy because the idea of the church isn’t just found within the physical boundaries of a believer’s life or the organized gatherings of believers around the world. The church is grounded in the vast and intimate spiritual realm as well as the mental battlefield of wisdom, the emotional ocean of compassion, the glue of morality in society, the home and hearth, and anything and everything that we call life as well as the vibrant hope of eternity. The life of a believer impacts all of these realms but is not be mastered by them. The thing to be cautious of as each church is to impact the culture not the other way around. Look at how each church had issues because they weren’t aware of that.

I want to focus on the church that is running in seventh place in the spiritual race. Whether you own up to seeing the American church as the church of Laodicia or not, we do have to admit we aren’t at our best right now. The Laodocian church was comfortable in the society around them. They were well fed, healthy and had fat little purses of gold. I wonder if you could distinguish between  the average citizen of Laodicea from the believer in the city of Laodicea? They had become so one with the culture they were meant to influence that no souls were won at all. 

Want to know a wild turn events? There are believers in other third world countries who pray for our nation. Instead of us sending missionaries into their nation they are sending them to the US. They see what having too much of this world can be a temptation to replace their faith in the Lord with faith in themselves. Talk about living in a Backwurld.

 As this piece is being written we are seeing a great upheaval in the US. Our way of life as American citizens is changing with every literal stroke of a presidential pen. Though this is disconcerting for some, as believers we know that these days were coming. We also know that we are to be in the world (as it’s spiritual influence) but not of the world. This is the whole point of this story. Are you going to settle in seventh place and let your faith get watered down by a mucked up world? Or can we as believers going to let the Lord do the work He desires to do in us in order to renew us from the inside out?

If you read last week’s post on the spiritual armor you understood that we have the Lord and His presence covering us from the outside. He does not send us into a spiritual war without the right armor and weaponry. Yet, we can look great, spiritual, and ready with teeth bared ready for a fight while all the time broken and decayed on the inside. He wants to also work on the inner man’s character and internal personal wars that no one sees but God Himself. How many of his children have been warriors in the past, but because they hid their internal doubts, fears, and hidden sinful struggles from His hand, they fell hard when the heat cranked up. 

Let’s talk about what Jesus wants to do fellow Laodicians. He will replace our fouled garments which have been soiled by our time on earth with holy garments of white. What man can’t do to dress himself in holiness and purity, the Lord does naturally. Our exposure to the world and things we have seen that have blinded us, the Lord wants to heal. He gives a salve that removes all sorts of visual issues: myopia (near sightedness) blindness, scales, blindspots, lack of vision, etc.). Finally, He is Jehovah Jireh (My provider). The gold of this world and everything we hold valuable, will rust, be stolen, and consume us more than we consume it. However, the gold, what the Lord calls true wealth is all based in the journey of our faith in Him. When family, fortune, freedom, or fortitude fails us, faith finds the faithful hand of the Father holding ours forever. 

Whew, so I know as we shared the water around us has heated up. (As I wrote this piece, every song on Pandora was playing songs meant to stir the heroic heart of the hearer. Maybe the Lord is telling us we are on the right track?) Here is my challenge to us both. Let’s take the Lord up his offer to heal us from the inside out. Maybe what the world around us needs to see are individual believers deciding to take the race before the seriously. Instead of being overcome and dropping into last place, they by God’s grace are the pace setters from the last lap, the final stretch, towards the great crowd of witnesses cheering them on. Could this be the finest hour of the church as this marathon of life comes to its great finish line?  

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