From the Bishop
Call to arms
Argentina suffered a civil war, the ‘Dirty War', under a military dictatorship from 1976-83. We often wondered, ‘Would the dictatorship ever end? Would democracy ever come?'
These questions were dramatically answered in the affirmative in 1982. The Argentine military dictatorship lost so much face upon losing the Falkland Islands' War with Great Britain that it also lost its brutal grip on its own citizens. A timetable was set to establish democratic rule.
Ironically, Argentina's loss of the Falkland Islands' War gave a decisive victory for Argentine democracy. In 1982 the transition to democratic rule was won and early 1984 saw its final establishment. This was despite numerous episodes of military uprising in the intervening years.
The decisive victory of the declaration of a return to democracy in 1982 guaranteed the final victory of democratic rule in 1984. In the intervening two years we suffered the death throes of the vanquished military dictatorship.
Sound familiar? Sure does!
The decisive victory of Jesus Christ over Satan and all evil through Jesus' death and resurrection guarantees His final victory upon His return to rule eternally.
But be on guard!
During the intervening years between the victory of the cross and the return of Christ we will all suffer the death throes of vanquished Satan and evil as they rage against the Kingdom of God.
It is no wonder that the Church, Christ's body, suffers. A healthy church transforming life experiences suffering, resistance and adversity. Jesus warns us that in following Him we share in His suffering:
Take up your cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
We encounter His blessing in suffering for Him:
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11)
The fervour and foment of history is made clear by Scripture. God's love, truth, mercy and grace are ever being combated by evil attacks from human pride, human sin, and the cruel idolatrous empires of humankind that can only be described as satanic.
In these intervening years between Jesus' cross and return we are called to arms, to ‘fight the good fight' (1 Timothy 6:12).
We must remember that this cosmic battle is not just against,
flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Satan and evil bring suffering through persecution and the ill health of individuals, society and the environment. Currently, we are experiencing the sudden and unexpected serious ill health of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Are we to lose hope? ‘No!'
Our response is not to despair but to hold faith and hope in Jesus Christ's victory on the cross and in his resurrection. The decisive battle has been won and the final victory is assured.
We ‘cast all our anxiety on him, because he cares for us' (1 Peter 5:7). We are convinced that nothing,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39).
Moreover, ‘the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.' (1 John 4:4).
The weapons for our spiritual fight against the father of lies, the attacker of the saints and the ‘flesh and blood', are clear.
We must all put on the full armour of God (Ephesians 6): truth, righteousness, readiness to proclaim the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the word of God, and confront our spiritual enemy in fervent, sustained prayer with lives of love, peace, gentleness, kindness: the way of Christ (Galatians 5).
May God empower us through his Holy Spirit to live absolutely, militantly, deliberately and fully for Christ, anticipating his return: a healthychurch ... transforminglife.
Bishop of Tasmania
Bishop John's blog is regularly updated.