Sunday, March 1, 2009

Living the “Afflicted” Life

“And so we see that this conflict of ours in which we stand in peril, and from which we long to be set free by a final victory, is bound up with the miseries of this life, which we know by experience, by the evidence of all those heavy afflictions, to be a life under condemnation.”[1]
-Saint Augustine of Hippo.

Reading the theology of the fathers of the church is an incredibly deep and complex process, truly giving us the picture of the profundity of God.

In the quote above we gain a glimpse of the life for the saved person, the Christian. Even though we are no longer condemned in any eternal sense, through Christ, we still must endure the condemnable life here on earth.

We still must battle with the forces of darkness, and for every victory claimed in the here ‘n’ now darkness slinks in to claim a share of the spoils. The enemy is cloaked in various forms and we are duped routinely in our implicit trust of all things, call it naivety if you will. (It’s a two-edged sword, naivety and scepticism; which is the lesser evil? Which is wiser?)

We do stand condemned in our base physical human nature. We become born-again, to the Spirit--a spiritual first-birth; we give away a good share of our previous freedoms; we place ourselves under the charge of God; we’re like lambs being led to slaughter much like our Lord.

Our bodies continue to ail under the curse of fallen humankind, of work, of desire, pride, anxiety, lust and a myriad of other fleeting and mordant labyrinths.

Yet, it is this reality which is the final victory in the flesh. I was reminded only recently, “The King has one more move,” in the theologically fetching Checkmate painting allegory.

And it is true. When we act in life with this truth being true for us, nothing can stop our faith, not even a tired and sinful body, or a lusting and prideful mind. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” –Romans 8:37 (NKJV). It is not because of these things, but despite these things, that we’re more than capable though Christ.

And we owe so much to the reformed theology of grace that unlocked all this truth; conquered temporarily yes, but not entirely annihilated. Condemned to this body and its inherent problems yes, but there awaits our resurrection body in heaven, finally. Our God has the final say, ultimately.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Saint Augustine, City of God (London, England: Penguin Books, (1467), 1972, 2003), p. 1070.

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