Monday, December 25, 2017

A Divine Manifesto for Life in Evil Times

UV 2866/10000 A Manifesto for Life
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5 v 16
There are two parallel narratives running in our lives: one of folly and the other of wisdom, one of evil and one of goodness, one of truth and the other of lies and half truths. In order to walk in Christ and walk with Christ who is our Designated Saviour to save us from the power of the latter and its consequences, we are exhorted by St Paul to chose to be wise and not foolish, good and not evil, truthful and not deceivers or deceived. He asks us to live recognizing the reality of the threat, presence and power of evil. He asks us to make the most of every opportunity in time and space to do all the good, to achieve all the good we can, to do our duty to both God and man. Apparently, it is going to be challenging, not easy. There is going to be tension between evil and good. There is going to be resistance and opposition. But the Redeemer lives within us, strengthens, counsels, empowers, equips and enables us to do more than we can think, ask or imagine. The Lord uses the tension, the resistance, the opposition to lift us higher, to exalt His name even as a kite rises higher on a resisting wind. It is God’s responsibility to save our souls but it is our response to redeem our time, to be zealous to make every precious moment count from the perspective of eternity. As believers and followers of Jesus, we should not only seek to be saved from the consequences of sin- judgement and eternal death but to be saved from the entangling power of sin in this fallen world.
St Paul’s admonition is relevant and needed as even one of the twelve chosen by Jesus to walk and live with Him for the entire span of His public ministry- Judas chose the path of evil even while pretending to be His follower. He even betrayed Jesus with a deceitful kiss. He had not used time and opportunity to acquit himself well before the Master of all creation, the Redeemer of all mankind. He had succumbed to the evil of the day, the machinations of the Pharisees and authorities of the time and his own warped mind. Even Jesus referring to Judas as a devil within his earshot did not wake him up to the evil potential of the destructive thoughts that he was toying with. The evil tortured him so much that he took his life thereafter.
As believers and followers, we have equal opportunity to do good or evil in all that we think, speak and do. Whether we do so, depends on how much we lean on the Holy Spirit and hear His whisper and act accordingly. The way the world is configured, the stimulus to do evil or temptation is greater than the urge to do good. In view of that, we are to be like a sponge that keeps absorbing the treasures of love and wisdom and contained in scripture and every time we are squeezed in this world, part of what we soaked in would ooze out. Like a good businessman or industrialist would be careful of how he invests his capital, we should chose the best domains, activities and fields to invest our time and talent. Like the good and faithful servant, we should realize that we are to render a full account to the Lord for the use of our thought, tongue, time, talent and temperament. These are the five resources that the Lord had invested in us at the beginning and we should know that at the end, we are to give a proper account for these precious resources.
We should always keep close to us the spiritual weapons of offence and defence that the Lord has given to keep evil at bay- wear the holistic spiritual armour of God. In this sense, redeeming our time in an evil world implies staying vigilant and alert so that no chinks of weakness or bad habit or bad choices or compromises develop in our spiritual armour through which the rapier thrust of the enemy to our hearts can penetrate. Practicing different godly habits and spiritual disciplines are a good way to redeem our days from evil. Scripture exhorts us to do all we can while we are on this side of the grave or in other words, to act with devotion to God, dedication to God-ordained and revealed purpose, discipline to stick to the chosen track, determination to carry out tasks till goals are either achieved or exceeded, diligence to keep studying how one can improve how he behaves, speaks, thinks, reacts, relates, serves, creates and works. Even if we have lost much time, opportunity and misused, abused or under utilised the five resources the Lord has given us, we can make up for lost time by redoubled zeal, vigour and efforts as summed up in the French phrase, ‘ rattraper le temps perdu’ or regain the lost time/ opportunity. We may not get the same as the lost opportunity again but the Lord can send us better, newer and greater opportunities to fulfil our God-invested potential and purpose. In yet another sense, making up for lost time or redeeming time means that we should now be obeying the Lord and keeping His commands as much as we engaged in disobedience to His will and word formerly.
Prateep V Philip

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