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Today’s column is based on a reading from Acts 2: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the holy spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit enabled them . . . amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Peter addresses the crowd then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams…..And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
I wonder how many people hear the reading from Acts chapter 2 and think to themselves that is the victorious Christian life. Oh, to have been there when the holy spirit came in a visible way as tongues of fire or to speak in other tongues/languages as the spirit gave them utterance. I wonder how many people think that living a victorious Christian life is having your life all together and under control with no sickness or having unwavering faith without temptation or spiritual struggles or having a problem free life with no family, job or financial stress? If those things are the measure of what it means to be a victorious Christian, then a lot of us are in big trouble.
I am guessing that most of you do not speak in other languages that you do not know or have it all together or having unwavering faith.
Imagine with me for a moment, if those around us could see hear our thoughts and see what we do when no one is looking. What kind of things would they see and hear, shocking things and sinful things? Things like fear, doubt, sorrows, worry, pride, arrogance, family problems, hatefulness, pettiness, selfishness, battles with various kinds of addictions.
Has the reality of your life and your battle with sin and temptation got you wondering, “Is the victorious Christian life a myth or a fantasy?” Are you sick and tired of struggling with doubt and temptations? If so, then this sermon is for you. I want to tell you the truth about what the victorious Christian life really looks like and, best of all, it is not something you do. It is something Jesus did for you and does to you. It’s not that the victorious Christian life is a myth; it just looks different than many people think, because it looks like the cross. The victorious Christian life is not lived above and beyond the problems of this life, as if we Christians can somehow float above it all. No, it’s lived in the midst of the problems and trials of life.
The victorious Christian life does not mean that we cease to be sinners, but that we are sinners saved by the grace of God through faith in what Jesus has done for us. We repent of our sins and receive the forgiveness and victory Christ won for us. How precious it is to know that when we blow it and sin, that we can come before our Lord with a repentant heart and hear him say to us: “I forgive you all your sins.”
The victorious Christian life is not growing up, becoming independent of Jesus, and needing him less; like a child does its parents. It is the opposite. The more we rely on Jesus and become dependent on him, the more we live in the victory he has won for us. Every day we need to remember our baptism and that we are his children. Every day we need to die to ourselves and live in Christ. Every day we need to receive his victory, life and salvation.
The victorious Christian life is not measured by the greatness of a person’s faith, but the object of a person’s faith. If Jesus is the object and focus of your faith, whether your faith is great or small, you have victory in him because your sins are forgiven and Heaven is your home. If you say, but Pastor, “ I feel so week and helpless,” remember, when we are weak in ourselves, we are strong in Christ (2 Cor 12:10).
The victorious Christian life is not about us and how great we are. It is about Jesus and how great he is. It is about what Jesus does in and through our surrendered lives to him. The victorious Christian life is not the problem-free life or the trouble-free life. No, it is a life lived in the midst of a broken and sinful world serving our Lord and serving each other.