by Pastor Peter Bean
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In this world, you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world (John 16:33b).
What does the world mean to you? Is it about a good job, successful relationships, moving ahead, a happy family? Perhaps you consider it but a short stay before eternity. Perhaps you hope for an easy life and no troubles. Yet, Jesus tells us plainly: in this world, you will have troubles!
So what does God think of this world? Quite a bit, it seems. God looked at everything he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:31). God loved the world enough to send the Son into it (John 1 and 3). Christ was involved in the creation of all things (Colossians 1), and this includes the world and all in it.
So why would Jesus say we will have troubles in this world? In this perfect, blessed and holy creation? Perhaps it’s the ‘we’, or ‘you’, part of it. The human side of things. The desire to have more and get more, pushing aside others in our quest to do so (perhaps not literally, but still). The almost innate need to put me first, and in doing so, to hinder or hurt others. Our consumption habits show that here in Australia, we used up our share of the earth’s resources for the year by 22 March. Mmm, the human side of things seems to equal troubles!
So what do we do? Wrong question! But also the right one! Under our own steam, we can’t get rid of our troubles. Yet we can’t just continue the way we are going and say God is in charge – no problems. Yes, God is in charge, and Jesus reassures us that he has defeated the world. But the craziness of God is that he chooses to work through us. That’s why Christ lives in us. That’s why the Holy Spirit empowers us – to trust in God but also live and act as his people, to whom the world is precious like it is to God.
Perhaps reflecting on the world as God’s creation, as very good, as a gift, as ‘all things made through Christ and for Christ’ (Colossians 1:16) might encourage us to look at the world differently. Yes, there are troubles, and we will experience troubles, but we can recognise through God’s grace that we are part of the problem and part of the solution. As Jesus has defeated the world, we live in and under his care.
Defeater of the world, help us not to be overcome by the troubles we experience in this world. Rather, help us turn to you, be reformed and renewed as your people who live under your care. Amen.