“I write these things to you, dear children, because you truly have a relationship with the Father. I write these things, fathers andmothers, because you have had a true relationship with him who is from the beginning. And I write these things, young people, because you are strong, the Word of God is treasured in your hearts, and you have defeated the Evil One.” – 1 John 2:14
When I read this passage, which I have done a lot this week, I keep coming back to one idea: victory.
I am a bit biased. John’s gospel is my favorite gospel. John’s letters are my favorite letters. John reminds us that God is a self-giving, self-sacrificial Spirit of Life and Light and Love. God is revealed in human flesh through Jesus Christ…who in every way has made us victorious, even in our sins and failures.
Is there any victory sweeter than being forgiven, set free from sin; than knowing evil no longer has sway over us, and when we stumble there is grace? Is anything more victorious than having a true relationship with “him who is from the beginning,” to know intimately the only true God though Jesus (which is how John defines eternal life)?
I think John is trying to beat his people over the head with this idea; to really get it in there, because there are times when it is easy to believe in this kind of victory as an idea, but still live utterly beaten down and defeated.
This past Sunday we capped off our year in youth ministry with an awards ceremony. Before we handed out some amazing awards, we took the time to reflect on the past year. For many of our students, the year was really tough. It was mentally and spiritually draining. It was dark and didn’t feel quite victorious for many.
But they made it.
You made it.
I am so proud of our youth. They are an amazing group of young people. They are tough and talented and wise beyond their years. They teach me so much and I am a better human being because of them. It is a privilege to watch them navigate all that life throws at them (and to go through the hard times alongside them).
This year was a reminder that our current situation might not feel a lot like victoryin the moment, but we are – youare – all victorious. I thank the God who has graciously set us free for allowing us to explore figuring out what living victorious for the sake of the world in the name of Christ looks like together.