8th Grade Graduation, 2018
The victory of faith.
1 John 5:1-5
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” 1 John 5:4
What kind of victory do you want? I remember it was in 5thgrade, I was never a good athlete. I still am not a good athlete, but it was in grade school that my parents made each of us to try at least one sport. And so in 5thgrade, I played basketball. I never really played in a game. I never scored a point, and my dreams of victory were pretty small.
I wasn’t thinking about winning tournaments or bringing home trophies. I didn’t think about outscoring our rivals – that was St. Paul’s Grafton Panthers. I didn’t think about buzzer beaters or three-point bombs. My dream was to steal the ball and do a layup, just once. Just once, to steal the ball and do a layup.
That was a pretty small victory.
What kind of victory do you want? Search your heart. Another way to say it, what is success for you?
Or, finish this sentence: I would be happy if I only had X. In high school for me, it was, if I only had a group of really good friends, I would be happy. In seminary school, it was, if I only had a wife, someone to love.
Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. The word overcome is the same word as victory, it’s the word NIKE. John is saying, at the end of this letter, he’s saying that we have won the victory over the world.
Act like you’ve been there. The first time my high school’s soccer team won a game. Ethan and the first shot the 5thgrade team made. Another way to say it: Make sure you answer the big questions before you answer the little ones.
The story of a man, one Christmas Eve, he was having a day that was pretty much hell on earth. His wife was in early and painful labor in Mankato. His dad was approaching his last hours in Owatonna, and he had a gash in his hand the size of a sheet of paper. His world was falling apart, so what can he do?
Well, for the Christian, am I baptized? Yes. Does the life of Christian end in death? No, because Christ has won the victory that matters. He has wrestled death to the ground for me and won. And he took a deep breath, and went to help his nearest neighbor.
There was a girl a few years older than me in high school, a beautiful gal who loved Jesus. Her name is Alyssa. She went to the big high school just down the street from where I lived. She said that high school was tough for her. Really tough. She cried every day when she parked her car. I don’t know what made it so tough, but this I do know: she spent the first moments of her day praying and reading her Bible. She survived the tough days and did well in the good days, because her victory was in Jesus Christ.
I’m not saying that your years will be that bad. Mine certainly weren’t that bad. But what I am saying is that she looks back on those days now knowing what she knew then, that Jesus has won the victory, and knowing what she didn’t know then: that tough times, they pass.
Victory. We are victorious because Christ is victorious. One more point to make: the victory that makes us victorious comes through our faith.
What does that mean: Through faith? It means what Jesus says in Luke 17: “Truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can tell this mountain: Be uprooted and thrown into the heart of the sea, and it will obey.” It isn’t the size of the faith that matters, that does such great things; it’s the object of that faith.
Or as John wrote earlier in his letter, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
What is our victory? It is a victory that Jesus won over death for us. What gives us that victory? Our faith. Why does it matter? We answer the biggest questions of life, so that everything else can be what it is.
Amen and amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters