Overcoming the World

I’m on vacation as I write these words to you today.

Beach, family, relaxation, unwinding, nice meals, reading, sunrises, sunsets, cool night breezes, games, laughs, meaningful conversation, silly conversation, trying new things, exploring, people watching, travel adventures, reflection, worship.

Those are some of the first thoughts that come to mind as I reflect on our time here. Then as I read today’s verses, there is this theme of overcoming the world and commentary from Matthew Henry summarizes these verses quite nicely:

He cannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and is still tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We must all, after Christ’s example, overcome the world, or it will overcome us to our ruin. – Matthew Henry

As I questioned in my prior post: “With all that is in my life, am I seeking up or seeking the things of this Earth?”

Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:5)

Even on vacation, there is the temptation to want more, but as I surrender to Christ and say “I want you more than things”, I find true relaxation, true rest.

I take 1 John 5:5 to mean that we can try as hard as we want (on our own) to deny ourselves the things of this world. We can try to be good people as some religions or human wisdom suggest, but those plans are flawed because humans aren’t perfect.

Believing that Jesus is the Son of God brings us down the path of truth in recognizing that through His perfection and sacrifice, we too can overcome the world.

The world is often like a garbage dump overflowing and stinking. It is messed up because of the lies we’re told, the lies we buy into, and the false hope we often seek, but God has a different plan and he can help us recognize his ways are better than the world’s ways in how we spend our resources (time and money).

Here are some of the things I think the world is saying as compared to what God has to say:

World Says

God Says

Keep your kids busy. Sign up for as many activities as possible. You want them to have every opportunity to get ahead, right? God rested (Genesis 2:2).

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. (Matthew 12:33)

The Bible is too restrictive and too hard to follow. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
Want more? Work harder. It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2)
If I had just a little more… 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
Let someone else take care of the poor. I give enough through taxes.  44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:44-45)
Buy this and you’ll be happy. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25)
You can do it yourself or simply, “you’re on your own”. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)