By G. P. Avants
“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”
I love the idea that love, faith, and hope along with the fruit of the Holy Spirit are verbs. You know like School House Rock reminds us, verbs are action words. “That’s what’s happening.” So, having faith means there is activity attached to it. You have faith, but how do show it or put it into action?
This is the seventh post in the Overcome series. In a time where people’s lives, motives, and faith are being fact checked as genuine or not, it’s time to do some self-reflection. Am I letting the Lord be that overcomer in every area of my life or has life overcome my days with fear and hopelessness?
Where is my faith?
As we face what many say is the End Times we are seeing foundational things being questioned or even villified. One of those institutions is the Church itself. As many disallusioned and fearful people look for a cause of their unhappiness, some have pointed to their church experience and subsequently their relationship with God. When it comes down to it people or a particular person might have been the reason why some have walked away from their spiritual foundation.
Sadly, people make or break people’s faith. That sounds like a lot of pressure put on a Bible believing Christian. But we are salt and light in a tasteless and evil world. But I wonder if more of us lived the Gospel out on the other six days of the week that things might really have a much different outcome.
When Jesus talked about the Beattitides in Matthew 5, he told it in typical Jewish fashion but of course with a spark of life in it. He started out with the key to the Christian life then went on how to use that key to open doors in the rest of the chapter. (I hope after reading this you will read the entire chapter and tell me if you see it,too) He shared that it was the Lord’s Spirit working in the lives of believers that made then peacemakers, merciful, pure in heart, faithful in suffering and the like. We are not ask to generate these spiritual virtues from the dry well of our own sinful souls. We are spiritually more like paupers who receive the Lord and then He works out His wonderful work in us and through us. Maybe the fact that our faith feels brittle and dry is that we haven’t opened our hearts and lives to God’s life-giving spirit.
So, here is the key. Let’s see what doors they open.
We face a world and a time when many good humanistic things are being done in the world. We are told by the world to care for others, connect with people around you, be a good compliant citizen making peace whereever you go. Love your fellow man.
No matter how you feel about where society is going, man’s goodness, even at it’s best possible state, is still rooted in our sinful fallen nature. We can appear to genereate or at least immitate godly virtues with a “form of godlines” without God’s power within. There is great move of Humanism that has been trying to remake everything around us into their image. That includes the church. Instead of passion for souls, we have been focused on one soul, our own. The Great Commission that moves us out has been quietly replaces with the Great Submission that tell us not make waves and go along with the bigger plan. “Do your duty like everyone else and you will be happy, content, and be blessed.”
As true believers in Christ we are called to live by faith. What does that look like up against a brotherhood of man? It means something just a little bit more that what is expected. When the tiny bit of faith we have in Christ gets to grow within us that “soul sprout” changes us from the inside out. It is no longer I but Christ working in me. That is the key. If I am a different person then everything in my life should be radically effected, naturally. Love in action is the most powerful real thing there is. (The real definition of love is a full-bodied, soul-stiring faith that knows how to show gentle grace to broken people while at the same time be hard on the cancer of sin that separates them from God.) So when I then say “God is love” I think that makes a little more sense, right?
With His Holy Spirit working the Gospel (God’s Good News that we can be freed from sin and free to live a holy life) in us and through us, we do something more than our duty. That’s why in Matthew 5 after the initial Beatttide statements comes a whole laundry list of real life issues in which we apply our faith. A believer who has the Gospel, will live out the Gospel, in their marriage, family, how they handle money, their careers, interactions with friends, family, strangers and yes even one’s enemies. Think about this: maybe these challenges are being spoken to the new man or woman in you to stir the soul sprout to grow into that tree you find in Psalm 1. Its roots are dug deep beside the river (maybe even in a a dry land that is hungry from the inside out) and provides true life and nourishment for those searching for the truth.
When the world demands from you your outer cloak, you give them your inner tunic. If they ask you carry their load a mile, you go two. You are going beyond human duty and what is expected of you. It is no longer you being just a good person, but it allows the confused looking receiver to see the true Godly person inside. It’s no longer mandated human goodwill but a door that the Lord can have in another person’s life. The Lord uses small and sometimes insignificant things to reach a lost soul, like even a cup of cold water given in His name.
Could it be that the Lord is using opposition to the church to get us to move outside the four walls of building? It is easier to be that Sunday church believer inside the walls, and have the rest of my week to myself. That is what our many in our culture has accepted as having a religion or doing one’s religious duty. But Jesus spent most of his week and his ministry by the sides of rivers and llakes, in peoples homes and walking along the streets. He took to heart and lived the Gospel out in every aspect of his life. You can tell a person truly believes what they believe if it affects their life as well as if suffer it. Do you know why the Romans stopped sending Christians to fight lions in the arena? That was because the crowd saw people who were willing to lay down their lives for the truth and they wanted it too. Living out the Gospel, even to death really shares that all God promised as eternal life is true.
Here’s my question and challenge to you: What would Jesus do through you if you let Him?