04/24/S – Following Christ in Triumph

Job 28:1-29:17; 2 Corinthians 2:12-14; Psalms 42:9-11; Proverbs 14:1-2

NT: “When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though the Lord opened a door for me, I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. Instead, I said good-bye to them and left for Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place.” (‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:12-14‬ ‭CSB)

Before the writing of 2 Corinthians, Paul sent Titus to Corinth with a strongly worded letter intended to bring firm correction to the floundering church. Paul then went to Troas to meet up with Titus to hear if the letter was received and had its desired effect. When Paul arrived in Troas and Titus was not there, Paul was not eased from the burden he carried for Corinth. If anything, it made him more concerned and uneasy – to the point that he left Troas, even though he had an open opportunity to minister there. In the midst of Paul’s concern and uneasiness, he was strengthened and encouraged by remembering that though it seemed like the kingdom of darkness was having its way, Paul was on the winning side.

When Paul spoke of Christ’s triumphal procession, he was alluding to the Roman Triumph. Whenever a Roman general was victorious in battle, he was awarded with a victory parade through the streets of Rome. The general would be magnificently lifted up on a golden chariot with his sons walking in honor behind him. In the parade would be a display of the spoils of war, along with the humiliated and defeated enemies. The parade would end at the circus, where the Roman citizens would watch as the prisoners of war were thrown before the gladiators and wild beasts as spectacles. In that illustration, Christ is the victorious general-king, and we as His disciples following behind Him, sharing in His victory.

As encouraging as that image is, we must not confuse Christ’s triumph with “Christian Triumphalism.” Triumphalism, by definition, is a smug and boastful sense of victory and superiority over another. Christian Triumphalism is the belief, that because we are in Christ, we can force our will in every situation and demand that circumstances always go our way… because Christ is victorious, it is our privilege and responsibility to force and enforce the rule and reign of His kingdom on everyone else.

The triumph of Christ is not triumphalism. Christ, in His first coming, did not ride into town on a golden chariot – He came to earth as a helpless babe and rode into Jerusalem on the back of a lowly donkey. He did not force His rulership over a people or a political system – He overcame the power of the devil and set us free from our slavery to sin. He did not enforce His will on His circumstances, but obeyed His Father’s will even to torture and death. Christ’s triumph came by being nailed to the cross – and as He allowed Himself to be humiliated for our sakes, the powers of darkness were ultimately humiliated, disarmed, rendered powerless and made into a public spectacle (Colossians 2:14-15). When we are led by God to follow Christ in His triumph, He will not lead us in triumphalism, but will lead us through faith and humility into triumph over sin, the flesh, and the devil as we submit to and identify with His word, will and ways. When we fully follow Christ as His disciples and submit to His word, will and ways, we share in the spiritual victory that He was won, and our lives become displays of His glory and diffusers of His character and fragrance. As we share in Christ’s victory, we can be confident, that even though things may not always go our way, everything will eventually work together for our good – everywhere we go.

Psalms: “Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭42:11‬ ‭CSB)

The Sons of Korah who wrote this psalm, at one time, had the honor and privilege of leading the people of Israel in worshipful procession to the temple. At the writing of this psalm, they had been exiled away from Jerusalem and could no longer participate in those processions of praise and worship. They were desperate for the opportunity to worship before God’s presence once again. The situation they found themselves in caused them to be depressed and deeply troubled. They were dejected and in turmoil. It seemed like God had forgotten them and that their enemies had won. But in the midst of their distress and sadness, they remembered God. They remembered His faithfulness. They remembered His promises. And in light of Who God was, they said to their depressed selves, “Why are you so dejected and in despair? Why are you so troubled and restless in your soul? Put your hope in God – for He is your victorious Savior.” The sons of Korah were not triumphalists. They were hopefully triumphant in the Lord their God. When we are in Christ by faith, we have been redeemed by God and transferred into His victorious kingdom. Though circumstances change and sometimes it may seem that the enemies of our soul have the upper hand; in Christ, God is for us. And if God is for us, who can be against us. When we are in Christ, nothing – not even death itself – can separate us from God’s love. So don’t be dejected and troubled. Hope in God and follow Christ into everlasting triumph, as you allow yourself to be a display of His glory and a diffuser of His grace and love everywhere you go.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that as I remain in You through faith and obedience, I can be assured that I am always on the winning side. Though circumstances may seem discouraging, I can be confident that You are willing and able to make all things eventually work out for good as I remain committed to Your purposes. Help me by Your grace, to follow You and walk in Your ways, and allow my life to display Your glory and diffuse Your gracious and holy character in every place and every situation. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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