"for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1 John 5:4-5
LISTEN: Mandisa, "Overcomer"
One of the top Christian movies of 2019 is "Overcomer."about a beloved basketball coach and history teacher at a Christian high school in small-town America. Life’s idyllic until his self-image crumbles after the local plant closes, forcing thousands of blue-collar workers to move elsewhere with their families. Lacking players, John is reassigned to coach the cross-country team, composed of one athlete with asthma: orphaned African American teen Hannah Scott (newcomer Aryn Wright-Thompson).
We love overcomer stories. People who make it rags to riches. A person with a handicap succeeding at an athletic event. Someone struck ill but who makes a comeback. An addict or alcoholic who with the grace of God becomes clean and sober. The person that doesn't give up despite the odds. The person who has faith in themselves, in another person, in a special project. The one who won't take no for an answer. The individual who loses and keeps off the weight.
These stories inspire us. Just as inspiring are the other victories we achieve that may not sound as spectacular to some. How about overcoming stinginess? Overcoming gossip? Overcoming envy, jealousy, resentments? Overcoming impatience or a bad temper? These traits sit in the shadows of our heart. They are resistant. If we think sticking to a diet is hard, try sticking to a diet of generosity -- where we give more from our pockets, compliment others more regularly, and pitch in with a good attitude when we are asked -- or do so automatically when we see the need?
It is helpful to remember that the apostle Paul and the gospel writer John often use the word "world" in a specific sense: those forces which are hostile, rebellious, opposed to God's will. Through faith in Jesus, we receive the grace to address the internal and external powers that would destroy the vision and the abundance of life God imparts to each of us. So an overcomer/victor is not just some one who gets the gold medal or is a success story that makes it to the news. Each one of us is called to be an overcomer -- of whatever challenge we face that keeps us from loving fully, as Jesus would have us.
What do you have to overcome? Seriously? A bad temper? An ungenerous spirit? Being judgmental or critical of others? Do you ignore the plight of those in need? Do you fight with others? These are the habits of the "world" Paul warns us about. Paul tells us in Romans:
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)
So let our minds be renewed and reshaped by the mind of Christ, which is the mind of sacrificial love and compassion; selflessness, reconciliation and forgiveness; mercy and justice.
The mind of Christ is our goal. What do we have to overcome to achieve it?
Let us be overcomers!