Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Slow but Sure Victory

"So what I told you is true. . . from a certain point of view. You are going to find that many of the truths to which we cling depend greatly upon our point of view" - Obi-wan Kenobi.

Yes, I just quoted Obi-wan. . . I'm a nerd, so sue me. However, this is a response to my last post. My wife read it yesterday, and she thought about it, and she said, "I suppose it makes sense, but I think it's more a slow victory."

This raises the question - what's your point of view. If we look at things in this earthly life - it is the long defeat, the slow decay of things here until the end. If we look at things from the perspective of heaven and eternity, the kingdom ours remaineth - it is victory, though sometimes seemingly slow in coming.

Whenever we look at things in this world with honesty, we will see the Law, we will see the impact of sin. Whenever we behold Christ and what He has done for us, we will see His triumph over all. Which way you look, what lens you peer through, shapes what you see. We can see through a law lens (let's call it a blue lens), and we can see through a Gospel lens (let's call it a blood red lens), and when we see them together, we get the full, 3-D picture of life. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but Christ's Word shall never pass away. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Rev Rydecki said...

Good post. Thus also the tension in the Book of Revelation between apparent defeat for the Church and victory for the world, when in reality, the opposite is true all along.

Keep the Star Wars quotes coming!

Eric said...

What I wonder is why do the elves struggle? Surely they understand both perspectives...that Middle Earth is ultimately doomed to pass away, and that ultimate victory awaits them in their ancestral home. But they don't just sit around waiting to be called home...they struggle against the evil that exists in Middle Earth, despite the struggle being nothing more than a "long defeat". Why? I'd like to believe that there's more to it than just making the place they're stuck in as nice as possible...there doesn't seem to be much nobility in that struggle.

Obviously this comment is as much allegorical as the original story is! The nature and purpose of our struggle here on earth is often a mystery to me, too.

Rev Rydecki said...

Of course they struggle. Not to earn a ticket aboard the ships to the undying lands, but because they're elves! It's the nature of an elf to fight against evil, and in so doing, to play a role in saving others out of Sauron's kingdom. Yes, that means they're still surrounded by the death and decay of Middle Earth, but neither can they run away from the struggle. Middle Earth must be preserved as long as possible for the sake of those who remain.

Eric said...

And as new creatures in Christ it is now in our nature to struggle against evil as well? Interesting...especially so in that, since we still live in sinful flesh (we are human rather than elven after all), our struggling is imperfect because our nature is imperfect. Not to mention that elves are fantasy...but that's beside the point.

Fair analysis?

Oh to have the convictions of an elf, eh?

Rev Rydecki said...

Yes, it is now the nature of a Christian to bear the cross and struggle against evil, even as the sinful nature rages to do the opposite. In fact, therein lies the cross of the Christian, to deny self and live according to the new nature, which bears the cross joyfully and struggles against evil stalwartly. Oh, that the new nature had an easier time of it! But then, where would the cross be?

You'll have to forgive me if I'm following the movie here instead of the book (I haven't read the book for over 20 years), but it seems to me the elves almost abandoned the struggle, too, and were about to run away from it, when that elfish sense of duty and honor returned and they came back to finish the fight.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Actually - at many points the various elves do not struggle as they ought - they cling to the joys of their own woods and isolate themselves from others -- but what they are called to do is to fight for the sake of their neighbors.

Why do we struggle here - why do we have labors? For the sake of the neighbor. I still live here in this life because of the labors of love God intends me to do for my neighbors - because of the vocations God has given me in which my neighbors are served. I am a pastor - I am to serve my congregation. I am a husband - I am to serve my wife. I am a son - I am to serve my parents. I am a citizen - I am to serve the neighbor in my town.

When my time for this is done, the Lord shall call me to rest. The temptation I must fight against, however, is ignoring my neighbor and instead wandering the my own woods wrapped up in myself.

Thy will be done - that is a prayer against my sinful flesh that would forsake the neighbor, a prayer for God's strength to sustain me and His Spirit to enliven me.

Rev Rydecki said...

All of that is true, but one more element must be added.

We also struggle for the sake of Christ. Not to help him in any way, but to be like him in some way, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death.

Yes, this often, perhaps most of the time, benefits my neighbor, but there are times when our being like Christ on earth will benefit absolutely no one - at least, not during this life. The lonely sufferings of some will surely shine like bright stars at the last day, tributes to the grace of Christ and the power of the Spirit that were able to sustain these Christians throughout a lonely and "meaningless" existence on earth.

I have a few nursing home patients in mind. They will rest from their labors.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Do not forget the exemplary benefits - for we are seldom called to be truly alone. The patient suffering of one in the nursing home is benefit to the neighbor - to those nurses there, the other residents - our actions bear witness - and that is a benefit to our neighbors as well.

Rev Rydecki said...

Yes, that's true most of the time.

But I think there comes a point, especially for those who are no longer able to communicate or care for themselves, when the good of the neighbor is no longer a motivating factor for continuing the struggle. God may well use it to benefit the neighbor, of course, but at that point, my struggle against despair and the temptation to curse God in my heart is not at all motivated by my neighbor's good, nor am I comforted with the good effect my existence may have on my neighbor. I wouldn't want fellow Christians comforting me with what a great benefit it is for the nurses to feed me and clean up after me, or telling me that that's the reason God is keeping me around in this sorry state.

No, at that point, I struggle, not conscious at all of my neighbor, but conscious only of Christ, who struggled for me.

Perhaps I also struggle to spite the devil who wished this suffering on me in the first place, and who surely gnashes his teeth in rage and confusion when one who suffers so refuses to curse God.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Well, there is that - the struggle against Satan - the very Christian desire to give him the bird and say, "My God and Lord has defeated you!"

I like how the Aiel in Jordan's Wheel of Time put it -- when they are fighting a hopeless battle against wickedness, they will keep fighting, if only to "spit in Sightblinder's eye." I like that. There is a lot of defiance that a Christian should have - If God Himself be for me, I may a host defy!

Rev Rydecki said...

Amen! (Although I haven't read Wheel of Time.)