John 16:22 “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
Here we have the secret to why the apostles were able to rejoice “because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (Acts 5:41) We often fail to grasp what an incredible, wonderful thing it is that we “serve a risen Savior,” as the song, He Lives, puts it. When unpleasant things happen, we should be like, “What difference does that make? I serve a risen Savior!” The fact that He rose, after being so horribly and undeniably murdered, is proof positive that He is the Victor, and when we are in Him, we share in His victory. That premise has been called Christus Victor Theology, and put down for being “simplistic.” Those who put it down are forever saying, “Yes, but….” One of the best-known proponents of Christus Victor was Corrie ten Boom, who survived a concentration camp and seeing her sister murdered in front of her and went on to be a powerful witness and evangelist to the whole world. That’s plenty of authentication for me! One hesitation the naysayers have is that they don’t want to “serve” even a risen Savior. It’s no accident that Paul expressed the mechanism of salvation this way: “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) It was that very confession that brought persecution, both then from the Roman emperors and today from Communists and totalitarians of all stripes. They don’t want competition for Lordship! However, if you haven’t made Jesus your Lord, you don’t really have Him as your Savior. Our obedience is imperfect in this life, but the commitment must be there. If it is, we’ve got nothing to worry about!
This is something I need to be reminded of with more frequency than I would like. I too get distracted by the immediate difficulty in front of me, effectively forgetting that I serve a risen Savior. It’s all a matter of perspective. When my heart is turned and tuned to Him, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim,” as Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus puts it. (I’m very thankful for all the Biblical songs in my head and heart!) I tend to be a joyful person, but I too can effectively forget that I serve a risen Savior, and so get depressed. That’s no fun! It’s not at all that I ignore difficulties, nor should I, but I seek to remember that “God’s got it all in control,” as yet another chorus expresses. When I forget that, I allow the devil to steal my joy, and he doesn’t have any right to me or my blessings. Material things are unimportant, but my joy is from the Lord, and the devil can’t have it, either to take it from me or to make it his own. The fact that he is incapable of such joy probably motivates him with jealousy to try to keep me from having it either! As I allow that joy to radiate from me it will be a powerful attractant to draw people to Jesus, who is of course the source of my joy. And I certainly want people to be added to the family of God!
Father, thank You for this reminder, and for giving me such a clear, joyful message for Sunday. I ask for Your anointing as I prepare the notes for that, so that I will say everything, and only, what You want me to say, working Your will in the hearts and lives of my hearers, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!