We had a revival at our church recently and one of the pastors who shared was Right Reverend Bishop Dr. Van Gayton. He’s stopped by before, an amazing man who is gifted in his ability to share the gospel. You can tell he’s also one of those people who is connected to the Holy Spirit. I mean, it’s like really obvious. When he says the Spirit told him something, I listen without wondering.
Our revival lasted 21 days, culminating in nightly worship during the last 5 days. Bishop Van Gayton spoke about the Holy Spirit, and explained a nugget more clearly than I’ve ever heard it before, he called it “the conflict of two ages.” I didn’t take a lot of notes as I was mesmerized by his teaching, but here’s my take on it, and why understanding this concept is so vitally important.
Have you ever wondered about the meaning of life? I have, and I don’t have all of the answers. I’m ok with that as my faith has grown stronger than the questions. I do feel like understanding the conflict of two ages is an important piece in the puzzle. The meaning of life… like I’m referring to this life or the time that we live in now. Why do we live here in a fallen world?
Recall the duality and social ills at the time of the French Revolution in Charles Dickens’ “A Tale Of Two Cities”…
“It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of dispair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going directly the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
I’ve been reading this book. Probably no coincidence, right? SparkNotes says of the novel, “With A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens asserts his belief in the possibility of resurrection and transformation, both on a personal level and on a societal level.” I always thought of this time we live in as a tug of war between good and evil. I guess that is sort of what Dickens is saying here too.
Why is the conflict of our times happening?
Well, I believe it’s because God doesn’t want a bunch of puppets on strings. It’s here that we have the OPPORTUNITY to become connected to God through Jesus and with the backing of the Holy Spirit. We live in an age between when Jesus, wholly God, came and walked as a man, and the time when we (hopefully) enter the Life of the ages, the eternal life. Remember, He is The Way, The Truth and The Life. In saying that, we can think of Him as the Way to the Life of the ages. If you believe in Jesus, heaven and eternity, our life here, in this life, is but a wink. Trusting in Jesus will take you to the Father. We can and do live the Life of the ages now, too, through our connection to the Holy Spirit.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why is this so important? Why are we here in this age?
What our God and Jesus accomplished at the Cross opened the door for us. It is our calling to live life here in this age according to the order of an age to come, to live the Life of the ages here in the present life. It’s all about the fellowship of sufferings of Jesus. Simply put, His life has to become our own. This is EVERYTHING the Christian life is all about. Thankfully we have a comforter in this effort and world, the Holy Spirit.
Are you with me so far? Good, I’m glad if you are.
Here’s the really hard part to deal with: Jesus made it perfectly clear that living this way, that living our lives here in this world, for and like Him, was going to cause us great trouble. It’s going to mean trouble because if you do this, you will be in direct conflict with this world. Yikes.
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome this world.” John 16:33
So cool your jets and take heart in knowing the ultimate victory has already been won. That happened at the Cross. Good and evil stood ready for Jesus, they strove for control and worship. Jesus worshiped and bowed His head to our Heavenly Father in the desert, and on the Cross until the very end. Game over. And some wonder why the Gospel is so important? Well, I know I can take peace even in the most troubling of times. That’s Good News!
Once we realize that life, for us, is always in terms of the bigger picture of things we find the peace, joy and happiness that our souls yearn for. That, to me, is how I’m learning to deal with living in the conflict of two ages. We’re in the place we are for a very specific reason: To give us an opportunity to live in fellowship with Jesus, and for the opportunity to have eternal life.
Yep, you could say it was an epiphany moment…
How do you find comfort living in the crazy world we live in? Have you heard of this “conflict of two ages” before? If so, what is your understanding of it?
Photo courtesy of “scanlime” on flickr.com