Overcoming the World
By Femi Aribisala
Pull Quote: In this world there will be power cuts.
Ask a Nigerian Christian how to improve the life of Nigerians, and he will give you a party-political manifesto. He will tell you about the need for non-stop electricity. He will talk about the need to curtail armed robbery and kidnapping. He will talk about the need to improve the medical facilities. But would such developments improve the life of Nigerians? Certainly not!
Jesus says: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). What does this abundant life entail? Is it a life abundant in electricity? If it were then the life Jesus promised has already arrived in Europe and America.
However, Jesus does not talk about obtaining electricity. Instead, he implies the overcoming of lack of electricity. Instead, he talks of having peace in spite of lacking the comforts of the world. Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). How can we overcome the world?
In 2009, I tried my level best to overcome electrical power cuts at home. I have a 1991 diesel generator. But I was going bankrupt from buying diesel, and the generator kept breaking down. So I bought candles. But then I flew off the handle during a power cut when I discovered there were no matches in the house. Besides, candles don’t power the television, the fridge or the fan.
So I decided to supplement the generator by buying an inverter. But the effective use of an inverter depends on my having some hours of regular electricity to charge it; and PHCN just refused to cooperate. Even on the few occasions when there was electricity, the inverter did not charge because the current was too low. So I bought rechargeable lamps. But these were no different from candles. Besides, there was no electricity to charge them and, even when charged, they only work for a few hours.
So I bought a small petrol generator as a back-up to the diesel generator. But it soon stopped working because the engine oil for the diesel generator was mistakenly put in it. Then it broke down again because it was overloaded. And then there was the added factor of perennial fuel scarcity. In short, in 2009, nothing I did enabled me to overcome electrical power cuts. So what is the answer?
Prepare to fail
My frustration with power cuts became a living parable. The only answer I have left is the unassailable one Jesus provides as our Good Shepherd. In order for me to overcome power cuts, I have to come to terms with power cuts. I have to be able to survive without electrical power. To overcome power cuts, I have to be unaffected by power cuts. I have to live without electricity and make having electricity inconsequential.
Through the ransom of his life, Jesus prepares us for failure in this world. The Good Shepherd does not give us a blueprint for turning failure into success. Instead, he shows us how to overcome inevitable failure. Jesus overcame by disregarding the world and accepting God’s providence. He overcame by trusting implicitly and completely in God.
Jesus was confident God would ultimately vindicate him for any trouble he encounters in the world. He was certain if he allows himself to be killed, God would raise him from the dead.
Can we also trust God to that extent? Can we trust God to turn failure into success? Can we trust God to bring life out of death? Can we trust God to raise us from the dead? That is the challenge of the Christian faith; made easier because we have a fore-runner in Jesus Christ. John says: “We win the victory over the world by means of our faith.” (1 John 5:4).
Jesus trusted God and he was not put to shame. Therefore, we should also be able to do the same confidently. Job said in the crucible of his afflictions: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” (Job 19:25-27).
The challenge for those of us who would like to inherit the kingdom of God is to trust God so completely that we would not be bothered by having to abandon all hope of gaining this world. We have to reject this world in order to qualify for glory in heaven. We have to disdain this world. We have to despise this world. We have to make sure we do nothing that gives the impression that we want to gain this world as well as the world to come. We have to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that we only want to gain the kingdom of God. Jesus asks: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37).
The writer of Hebrews says Abraham: “was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10). The same applies to that man who is born of God to overcome the world. When he gets to Rome and sees the Coliseum, he is not impressed. When he gets to Paris and sees the Eiffel Tower he disdains it. When he gets to New York and sees the World Trade Centre, he remembers Isaiah’s prophecy of: “the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.” (Isaiah 30:25).
Those who can see the kingdom of God know that: “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1). Therefore, if the devil were to take the truly born again Christian up on a high mountain and show him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, promising to give it to him if he would just worship him, he would follow the Good Shepherd in answering him: “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.” (Matthew 4:10).
A cliché is a cliché often because it is true. This world is not our home; we are just passing through. Nothing about it should be attractive to us. It is a world ruled by Satan. It is a world of sin. It is a world in rebellion and enmity against God. It is a world of death. Therefore, we only have one option concerning this world. We must overcome it. We must not be enticed by its vainglories. We must readily accept failure and defeat in this world.
In this world there will be power cuts. But be of good cheer. Jesus is the light of the world. In his light, we shall see light.