Not Everything Is What It Seems
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”
- 1 Peter 3:18
Many of us are familiar with the quote: “Not everything is what it seems” (Jose Saramago). The Apostle Peter probably had not heard that exact quote, since Mr. Saramago lived many years after him. However, Peter was trying to encourage his reader with similar words – sometimes it looks like evil is winning, but God is always behind the scenes working things according to his plan and purpose. The churches to whom Peter wrote were experiencing extreme abuse and persecution by the religious and civil authorities. If Jesus had overcome the world, why did the world seem to be winning?
The greatest example of things not being what they seemed was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. While evil rallied all its forces together, God never lost control. When Jesus was betrayed, condemned, and crucified, the Lord never left his throne. He never threw up his hands in the air with confusion. The Lord knew the plan. It was not an easy plan, but it was the way of salvation. Jesus, the spotless lamb of God, took all the sins of the world upon himself. The wrath of God towards sin came upon the one righteous man. While it seemed unfair and unjust, the Lord’s justice was being satisfied. Through the blood of Jesus, all of humankind was invited into a relationship with the Father. They were offered forgiveness of sin, salvation, and reconciliation with the Lord. What appeared to be death instead brought life, and not just life for one but life for all who would put their trust in him.
Throughout the Lenten season, it can appear or feel like we are losing. The battle with sin rages as we seek to deny our fleshly desires. The pain of our sin becomes clear as we acknowledge all the ways in which we have fallen short of the glory of God. Forty days can begin to feel like forty years. However, the cross is before us, and yet the cross is behind us. We already have the gift of salvation; we already have the gifts of forgiveness and reconciliation. The opportunity of Lent is to grow deeper into that salvation and deeper into the righteousness of Christ. In doing so, we go deeper into who we were made to be and called to be. Viewed properly, it is a glorious opportunity though not always pleasant nor pain-free.
The Lord would use this season of Lent to allow you to die to your flesh so that you may live to his Spirit. It may not be easy, but there will be a great celebration at the end. In the meantime, things are not what they seem. The struggle between the flesh and the Spirit remains, but the true battle has already been won through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Reflection:
Do you become easily discouraged in challenging seasons? How would the Lord like to strengthen you in body, mind, and Spirit through this season of Lent?