I’m afraid that cheerfulness is not something most Americans feel today.
Hopelessness is more likely.
Why is that?
Heroes are few, the real kind. I’m not so sure we would even know what a real hero looks like anymore. Most of our “heroes” are pretty disappointing when we get a good look at them up close.
So where do we find hope? Who will inspire us?
It seems not even Christians are salt or light anymore (Luke 18:8). I’m sorry to say that judgment in America will begin in the house of God (I Pet. 4:17). Jesus will begin by cleansing those places that claim they are “His Father’s house,” as He did the first time He came.
America is not brighter for her “Christians.” Yes, there are some who truly are a light in the darkness because they walk in the footsteps of their Master. They do not conform to the social and cultural “norms” that are morally abhorrent to God. Nor do they bow a knee to the idols of selfish conceit and pride, or travel with multitudes through “wide gates.”
They have not forgotten what “love” is. Love does not seek its own self interest in the name of “personal rights,” but the welfare of others (I Cor. 13:5). That is love. That is the mind of Christ.
Are you a follower of Christ? Then follow Him.
It is a narrow path, a narrow gate that only leaves room for a wooden beam to follow you through.
Let your mind be transformed, not conformed to the world around you. Most likely, you will be despised and hated, as He was, by those who say they despise hatred.
Our country is being swallowed by darkness. I don’t think it is all that different than the darkness that settled over the land of Israel before Jesus came. Matthew wrote about this. When Jesus set out across Galilee in His sandals, He fulfilled a prophecy in Isaiah 9. “The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light. Light has dawned on those sitting in the land and shadow of death” (Matt. 4:16).
America the beautiful is becoming America a “paradise lost.” In some ways it is almost unrecognizable, a strange and alien place, a twisted jungle of sin and immorality, a Sodom and Gomorrah where right and wrong are measured by sliding scales, if they are measured at all. As in Israel B.C., beyond our glorious Temple walls–our empty shrines to religion, in a Valley of Hinnom we sacrifice the unborn by millions, to self-serving gods of pleasure, convenience, and personal choice. The value of a human life is uncertain in America. While sixty-one million human beings go unnoticed, a Twin Towers memorial fountain bears an inscription to “her unborn child.”
Two thousand years ago, when Jesus’ followers were facing their darkest hour, Jesus said to them, as He does to us in ours: “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We are aware of the tribulation we see in the world around us.
Jesus followed this with these words: “but be of good cheer.” It is one Greek word, more precisely translated: “take courage.”
Why? . . .If we have tribulation in the world!?
Because “I,” says He, “have overcome the world.” The word “I” is emphatic. It means, “I myself.” “I have personally overcome the world.”
“I have overcome” is in the perfect tense in the original Greek text, like His declaration “It is finished” at His death. He could not have made a more definitive statement! He is saying, “I have already won the war!” “Whatever the world can bring on: I have already overcome that.” “I have conquered the world.” He said this in light of His impending death on the cross, just hours away, and His resurrection from the grave in three days. Hebrews 2:14 says that “through death He destroyed him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and freed those who all their lives were in bondage to the fear of death.” So in Revelation 1:18 He says, “[Now] I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
Colossians 2:15 says, “Having stripped and disarmed the rulers and authorities [of spiritual darkness], He openly exposed them, having triumphed over them in [the cross].” John agrees. “The Lion of the tribe of Judah has overcome!” (Rev. 5:5). Let us add our voices to millions in heaven in Revelation 5, who say, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain [slaughtered], to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” We can say with Paul, “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory” (the same word as “overcome” in John 16:33) over sin, death, and mortality, “through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57).
He is a real hero: the greatest hero ever! You might say He made and broke the mold. No one can compare with Him! How beautiful is our Jesus!
May cheerfulness live in your heart as you go forth in the light of His victory over the world. For we share His victory with Him. As Paul also wrote: “Thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ” (II Cor. 2:14). He leads us in life, at all times, in a triumphal procession, because Jesus has overcome the world.
If “you and me against the world” means Jesus and you, it’s not a bad thing. It means that you have a future when everything around you says there is none.
Take courage, friend.
Take His nail-scarred hand. It will remind you of the victory you share with Him over the world!
© James Unruh, 2016 and beyond