Mixed bag of Victory and Struggle

Thoughts from my readings in For All the Saints: A Prayer Book For and By the Church…

Today I read Judges 8:22-35. Gideon received gold, a lot of gold. Every man placed his gold earrings onto a garment laid out before them, equalling 1700 shekels of gold. Also placed on this garment were other items taken in the spoils of war between Israel and Midian. Gideon then made an ephod from this gold. An ephod was worn by a priest in worship. Gideon placed this ephod in the city Ophrah. All of Israel betrayed their marriage of faith to the Lord God and played themselves the adulteress with this piece of false worship. Gideon and his family also became ensnared by this piece of split worship. The very moment of Gideon’s victory also included the seeds of his very defeat.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about this moment of victory and struggle…

Gideon is victorious, the church is victorious, because faith alone is victorious. But Gideon does not overcome, the church does not overcome, we do not overcome, but God shall overcome. And the victory of God means our defeat; it means our humiliation; it means the scorn and wrath of God on all human pride, on trying to be something. It means bringing the silence of the world world and all of its shrieks. It means the crossing up all of our thoughts and plans; it means the Cross, the Cross above the world.

I have been thinking this week about the shape of Christian victory amidst ongoing struggles against sin and disaster. We never stop needing the cross because our victory is by faith alone. We don’t overcome. We don’t become self-righteous through our own deeds. We receive the victory of Jesus, and God alone will overcome. To cross I must go with my sin.

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