Spotlight 1/2023: Not only for the time being
District Apostle Leonard Kolb (USA) ventures a look into the future. He speaks of the divine destiny that awaits Christians in the eternal future after life on earth. But the preparation for it takes place already today.
The motto for this year, “Serving and reigning with Christ”, projects us into a future orientation: Christ is coming! The Chief Apostle clearly outlines how these two elements of spiritual work are necessary for those preparing for Christ’s return. Thus, the concept of work that started in the beginning when God expected humanity to care for and preserve the creation He had made for them, is continued into the future world. The prospect of serving and reigning with Christ is a stirring inspiration; imagine, the Almighty calls you for a purpose!
Our journey on this earth is not merely a life with a transitory or temporal meaning; we have a divine purpose in an eternal future and, our Saviour, Jesus Christ wants us for this purpose!
Nevertheless, we cannot allow ourselves to become futurists, those simply enamoured with a future life, rather this inspiration must prompt us to be “realists” to the reality of preparing ourselves here and now. Let us look at these two labours and begin practising these efforts already in the present.
When we consider serving, it is necessary to also consider sacrifice. How much of my time, my resources, my wealth, my efforts, my strength am I willing to set forth or sacrifice in order to serve Christ today? “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:15–16).
The writer of Hebrews shows us that doing good and sharing is a sacrifice. Praising God and giving thanks also means a sacrifice was made. From this, we can see that serving is not a matter of convenience; it does not fit into the normality of a self-centred life. One must truly desire it and “budget” for it; one must commit to it: “Yes, I want to serve with Christ! And I know this will cost me something.” But then comes the realisation that this cost is nothing compared to the joy one receives in serving. This joy is the joy in Christ, a source of ongoing strength and happiness that lifts us from mundane burdens and cares into the assurance of the Lord’s presence and His blessing for our good. Once this is understood, the work of serving becomes not only easier, but becomes part of our nature, as it was part of the nature of Christ.
When we consider reigning, we should take into consideration self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22); in other words, a trait that is generated in one who is led by the Spirit of God. Self-control, or reigning over ourselves, is sometimes a difficult work, as it moves counter to our earthly nature and even against the societal zeitgeist. Prevalent today are desires for freedom of expression, demands for liberty to do as one pleases; no restrictions, no inhibitions. The Spirit of Christ illuminates us so we see ourselves as we really are—small and undeserving—which prompts us to humble ourselves under the loving and gracious will of our benevolent Father. Self-control comes easier to a humble soul who more clearly sees the bigger picture, namely that the way and will of God brings freedom from sinfulness and liberty to serve. “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3: 17).
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5: 13).
Thus, we can see how these two beautiful overcoming attributes link together. Each is necessary for us to develop and prepare for Christ’s return.