Growing up in church, we used to sing this song, “Victory in Jesus.” And, whether it was the song or something else, it seemed like victory in Jesus was a pretty popular idea around Calvary Community Church. Crazed tambourinists shouted it, lonely widows claimed it, drunks begged for it, and the choir hummed it in the background of the Sunday sermon. Consequently, I grew up in an ecosystem of victory chants and exclamations, a veritable smorgasbord of Christian conquest.
I miss that.
For a time I was embarrassed by all the hootin’ and hollerin’ (as they liked to call it), but those good folks were like gardeners of God’s eternality, growing hope like grain. This is something most people lack, yet they had it in spades. They had hope. They believed no matter how bad things got, no matter how dire their straits or grim their chances, God’s Spirit was on the move to save, to heal, to rescue, and to restore.
They had hope when it looked like pure fantasy, and they had it for the most ridiculous things. They hoped money would show up on their doorsteps at night while they slept, and they hoped their children would be unable to sleep because God’s Spirit would convict them of their sin, and they would fall to their knees in spectacular repentance. They had hope for divine deliverance and supernatural healing, hope for jobs and better jobs, hope for mystical romances. And, lo and behold (for those are, indeed, perfectly suitable words here), they did find money and receive gifts, and their children did run to the altar to be both saved and married (sometimes simultaneously).
Not always.
But lots.
And when they didn’t get what they wanted, or get it in the way they desired, that didn’t stop them from shouting, claiming, walking, and believing in victory.
When I look at my Midwestern town, with all its economic woes and cultural false-starts, think we could use a little victory I think we ought to start drinking that victory Kool-Aid. Because those folks that raised me had it right. We have something to hope for because we have someone on whom to rest all our hopes. And Christ Jesus didn’t just make a few promises about a better life later on; he won the decisive victory against the powers of darkness on the cross. He defeated death, he made a show of the powers of Satan and his subordinates, and he reversed the effects of sin on the human soul. Because he won the victory, and because we are united with him through his Holy Spirit, we share in that victory.