In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33 NKJV)
Tribulation means great trouble. Jesus doesn’t sugar coat what living in a ruined world will be like. There will be difficulties, heartbreak, tragedy and sometimes unbearable suffering. In fact, we will eventually lose almost every temporal blessing we enjoy.
Jesus originally gave these words to prepare his disciples for his arrest and brutal crucifixion, and the terror they would experience at that loss. But his words are also universally applicable to everyone who believes in him. They are to provide comfort and encouragement to you and me as well.
Amazingly, he tells us to be of good cheer in spite of it all. We can still be happy and rise above the sometimes crushing circumstances and heartbreaking losses. He doesn’t offer merely well-meaning advice; he gives us the wisdom from heaven we need to solve the problem along with the grace and power to put it into practice.
How is that even possible? Jesus has overcome the world. He has conquered evil and eternally defeated Satan, the god of this fallen world (2 Corinthians 4:4) God’s kingdom will one day replace the present kingdom of darkness, and in the here and now you can enjoy the peace and joy that comes from knowing Christ (Romans 14:17).
The original West Side Story ranks as the greatest musical film production of all time, and Steven Spielberg’s 2021 version updates the classic production for new generations. Derived from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and created by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins, the original film captured ten academy awards including Best Picture in 1961.
But what makes it so compelling? The plot conflict is universal, deep and timely: love and sin. It is universal because as human beings we are made to love and be loved. But as fallen human beings, there is a power that often keeps us from loving and being loved: sin. In this case the sinful obstacle that plagues us to this day: racism. The mutual hatred born of sinful pride divides the Puerto Rican and white gangs.
Yet, as they sing Somewhere together, Tony and Maria long for a better way:
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air wait for us.
Someday there’ll be a time for us:
Time together with time to spare,
Time to learn, time to care.
We’ll find a new way of living,
Will find a way of forgiving.
A time and a place for us.
Hold my hand and we’re halfway there,
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there.
This longing is in every one of us. It is a longing for a better way, not the way of this world, not the way of the first Adam, who fell from his created perfection into corruption. It is the way of the Second Adam, the way of love, the way of forgiveness, the way of God:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9)
A wonderful explanation of the Divine Family and evangelism as an invitation to the dance. A must see.
Yesterday Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon took his brother and two others with him into space aboard his Blue Origin spacecraft.
Bezos’ flight marked a milestone in the quest to make space accessible to more people. The flight was unique in a number of ways: it featured the youngest astronaut, the oldest and it was guided by AI (artificial intelligence) instead of a pilot. Conscious they were making history, the crew took with them a bronze medallion made from the first hot air balloon, canvas from the Wright brothers’ plane and Amelia Earhart’s flight googles.
Many on social media expressed their displeasure in that the billionaire’s money could have been spent on improving things back on earth. But new innovations always provoke naysayers. Some rejected those new fangled automobiles on the grounds that they would scare horses, they were too noisy and besides, there was no place to find gasoline anyway!
The truth is that the conquest of space is part of the quest to extend global mastery implied in the cultural mandate to “fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Furthermore the conquest of space will improve life on earth through such things as improved communication, transportation, weather forecasting, understanding of climate change and national security.
The whole world seemed to watch the spectacle and the shared sentiment seemed to be “What could be better than taking some folks into space?!” The four newly minted astronauts were euphoric after their historic 11 minute flight.
So what could possibly be better than taking some folks into space? Unnoticed by the world, another event took place a few hours later on July 19, 2021. Don McCurry, founder of the Samuel Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies, who devoted the past 70 years to reaching Muslims for Christ was donating his library to the Assemblies of God Global Initiative. The group used the occasion to honor Don and his wife for their 70 years of faithful service in helping to lead Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ.
It made me reflect on the two events from the perspective of eternity. To be sure, taking ordinary people into space is a wonderful thing. It is potentially as revolutionary as mass producing the automobile. Yet, from the perspective of eternity, helping to take many to heaven for eternity is far greater than taking a few to space for 11 minutes.
And which is better: taking a few to space for 11 minutes or helping to take many to heaven for eternity?