This article was inspired by, and derived from, a chapter in one of Bishop Frank Weston’s books on the theme of Love’s Victory. He had been invited to write this book at the end of the First World War in order to restore people’s confidence in the goodness of God at a time when the horrors of the war had shaken the faith of many.
For there will no longer be a curse upon anything. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, His servants will worship Him and we will see His face. There will be no night there – no need for lamps or sun – for the Lord God Himself will shine on us, and we will reign with Him forever and ever. (Rev. 22:3-5)
In days gone by, two world wars drew to their exhausted ends, and the infamous reigns of the Kaiser and the Fuhrer came to an abrupt halt. In their megalomania, these men had given rein to all that was most sinful and proud in their nation’s make-up, setting it on a destructive course that led to violence and tragedy right around the world.
These grim examples of what can happen when men crave fame and victory are stark and permanent reminders of the peril that follows in the wake of leaders who seek to impose their control over others – whether their own citizens or those further afield.
Today, the world is becoming increasingly concerned about China’s resolute and sophisticated efforts to exert an ever stronger influence on well over a hundred other nations through its Belt and Road Initiative (sometimes known by the softer-sounding title of the New Silk Road), as its leader seeks a central place on the world stage. Behind the scenes economic wars even now underway as Rick Joyner has warned in his article The Four Winds of Change, threatening to escalate into still greater tension as destructive spirits goad those involved along pathways of pride and ambition.
But while that is playing out on the macro level, many who love the Lord Jesus are being ignited by the Spirit with a passionate longing to see God’s holy fire fall upon the Earth. In the light of His holiness, how can we but face up to the many ways in which we have wounded His heart and hindered the work of His Kingdom through our self-centred ways and our lack of concern for social justice?
In every generation, the Lord has found willing souls who have been prepared to cast themselves into His service, and to work as one with Him in redeeming those particular regions, professions and institutions for which He has made them His watchmen. The victory that the Lord Jesus accomplished on the Cross, and the subsequent fire He sent into believers’ hearts at Pentecost, have been growing from strength to strength in every corner of the Earth, ever since He rose from the dead and returned to the glory He had known from before the founding of the world. Our heartfelt hopes for a fresh and global outpouring are no idle longings!
From Christ comes true family life, the highest ideals of fathering and mothering, and all that is best in civilisation. Multitudes of His faithful children have been transformed into his likeness and are hard at work seeking to transform their societies.
This is true. So, too, unfortunately, is the fact that many who call themselves by His name continue to love power, position and the trappings of religiosity more than they love Him. Throughout the centuries, pride and soaring ambition have allowed deadly rivalries to develop in the Church, the Body of Christ – the very place which should lovingly desire only to gather God’s children and to extend the work of His Kingdom on Earth.
It is not enough to protest that we ourselves have played no part in these excesses because all of us are, at least to some extent, implicated. As intercessors, we must own the responsibility for the Church having been the reason that countless souls have turned away from seeking Jesus.
Mercifully, such failures are by no means the full story. Very many have shown themselves willing to repent of the sins of our forefathers, as well as of our present lack of love and unity. As a result, the Lord is winning multitudes to Himself right across the world. Our sorrow and repentance, combined with our willingness to address these wrongs, have become the means by which the Lord advances His victory.
Even so, evil spirits are ever on the watch for opportunities to twist and pervert our new found zeal. Even while multitudes repent and protest appropriately for the actions and injustices of our police forces and other agencies, we must also pray that civil unrest, with all its underlying bitterness, does not win the day – for that would truly cause the devils to rejoice with fiendish glee.
No-one is doubting the challenges and difficulties here. The vaulting ambition, and even corruption, of certain Church leaders has greatly hurt the cause of Love. The results have veered from the gathering together of God’s people becoming little more than a social club on the one hand, to cult-like demands on the other. In either case something has come into being that is far removed from true Christian fellowship and service.
Open the doors of some ‘respectable’ churches, and we will find too much that perpetuates self-serving complacency. How many sensitive souls have we driven away from the household of faith by such attitudes? We must repent for wherever we have made the family of Eternal Love a society for those deemed to be the ‘right’ sort of people. Jesus came precisely for the ‘wrong’ sort of people!
There is much hard work and humility called for here. It is not enough to honour and promote people on account of their status in life, or even because of their apparent giftings. Natural ability alone is no certain indicator of spiritual maturity. Those who are in high position can actually prove highly dangerous in terms of leading others astray. The Spirit of the Lord is scouring the Earth rather for those who have a heart to seek Him and to serve others. And because He is finding them, Love is slowly winning.
The more we embrace the need to repent of all the ways by which we have hurt Eternal Love, the more Jesus is able to make His Church a truly Christ-like place, free from the snares of pride and position, and where people are able to grow, truly safe and secure. We are only truly His body if we are Christ-like.
That is our starting point – the vertical beam of the Cross if you like, which prepares us to embrace the horizontal dimension of the Cross: the social ramifications. For how can we claim to be followers of God when we bring no challenge to those who daily exploit the ones who make the goods we use, the clothes we wear, and the food we eat? How can we follow God, who appointed a day of rest, and bring no challenge to those who force their employees to work impossibly long hours? Or who pay them next to nothing but still demand require more and more bricks without giving them the time and wherewithal to make them?
May God give every exploited worker the grace to hold on until circumstances change, or He makes it possible for them to move on. And may we, employers and employees whose first call is to serve the Lord, find ways to make fair and honourable agreements and avoid the strong but subtle snares of greedy Mammon’s thrall. Even now, may we willingly cast aside all false preoccupations with wealth and position.
As my great uncle wrote at the turn of the twentieth century, ‘May employers give Eternal Love His proper wage in the persons of their workers, and the workers give Eternal Love His fair gift of honest labour in the person of their employer – whether this be a family run business or an institution of the State.’ The Lord will not fail to honour such a stance.
As always, He watches every seed that grows, and sees how it bears fruit according to its kind. Whether of grace, or of sin, both will have consequences that reach far beyond their initial sowing. Sometimes quietly, but at other times in more dramatic ways, may the Lord draw the hearts of many to examine their motives at this time, and to yield to His will. For even in the midst of many struggles, Eternal Love can never be conquered, and He still reigns. May it be His seeds which grow in this vast movement of love that He has both initiated and choreographed, and which reaches upward and onward toward the perfect day of His return, when everything will change forever.
Since by far the greater part of our life lies ahead of us in eternity, may the vision of how things will be when Jesus comes again fill our hearts with hope. And, because our work on Earth is to heed Love’s call, and to sow seeds that will bear fruit into eternity, we must ask ourselves this question: what are we doing today – right now even – that will prove to be of eternal worth?
Most of us are full of hopes and fears, some of them godly, but some of them decidedly less so. May we increasingly be wholly taken up with Christ, preparing ourselves and others for the day when He comes for and amongst us. He does not want us to reach the end of our life uncertain of our standing with Him, but to be counted among those whom He deems worthy to reign on Earth with Him. The day will come when His name will be written on our foreheads, and we who love Him will shine with the reflected glory of Love Divine.
So Lord, we offer ourselves afresh as a force for good.
We give ourselves now to serve as You direct:
in the Church, in our homes and families, in our place of work,
in our social life, and in the world at large.
We refuse to adopt partisan attitudes, or to make subtle, or unsubtle attempts to make ourselves look better than we really are.
You are coming for Your own, and You will root out all the evil of our hearts as You bring the light of Eternal Day to bear in our lives.
We set our hearts to be the bringers of Your love and compassion to all those You send us to; yes, even to the seemingly unlovable.
Use our hearts and minds to think with You,
our tongues to speak for You,
and our whole being to live, love and labour with You.
We celebrate Your Victory, dear Lord, the victory of Love.