'Overcoming' and New Identity
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’
(Rev 2:17 ESV)
In Christian circles, we often wrestle with the question, “Is it easier to die for our faith or to live for it?” In Pergamum, anyway, the LORD says that it was easier for the Christians there to die for their faith than to live for it. While they didn’t shy away from martyrdom, they also didn’t shy away from compromise. The way of the Nicolaitans seems to have been an understanding that since all matter was evil, and since Christians had been saved from the power of darkness, it didn’t matter what kind of sexual immorality Christians did with their corruptible bodies – what mattered were the “spiritual” parts of us. Thoughts, ideas, wisdom – especially secret wisdom or ‘mysteries’ – were important, so do whatever you want with your flesh. This is the Way according to the Nicolaitans, and it is as popular today as it was then. In Christian circles, it amounts to a new name but not a new identity.
Our new name can be child of God, disciple, saint, Christian, or any of the myriad names given to followers of the Way of Jesus in the New Testament. But I think the overcoming identity is wrapped up in an intermingling of surrender and trust. We surrender because we trust and we trust because we’re surrendering. Here we decide, and learn, what is enough.
In the foreword to Ruth Haley Barton’s Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Dallas Willard writes, “Solitude and silence are the most radical of the spiritual disciplines because they most directly attack the sources of human misery and wrongdoing. To be in solitude is to choose to do nothing. For extended periods of time. All accomplishment is given up. Silence is required to complete solitude, for until we enter quietness, the world still lays hold of us. When we go into solitude and silence we stop making demands on God. It is enough that God is God and we are His… This knowledge of God progressively replaces the rabid busyness and self-importance that drives most human beings, including the religious ones.”
Overcoming looks like a person who carries peace and quietness with them wherever they go, because they are wholly surrendered to God. They do not take charge of outcomes. They do their part, but that doing is always tempered by surrender to the two great facts of human existence:
1. There is a God.
2. I’m not Him.
Does that sound really, really attractive to anyone else? Why?
in HIS love,