In the first Sunday service of the new year our Chief Apostle sets a powerful accent: “Victory with Christ!” This statement allows us to look into the future with courage as Jesus Christ has not only gained the victory over hell and death, but also allows us to share in His victory. His comforting words attest to this: “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14: 19). He is the one who always helps us to gain new victories for the work that He has begun in us. He accompanies us through all the hardships we experience, and gives us the power to conquer the evil within us and attain eternal life in fellowship with the Lord: let us gain the victory with Christ!
The theme series of the month of January, namely “Christ in us”, goes on to explain what we have received through Jesus Christ, and the victories He enables us to achieve. The first element necessary for this is the rebirth out of water and the Spirit. This will be the topic on the second Sunday of the month. Through the rebirth out of water and the Spirit, our relationship with God is strengthened and we are promised perfect fellowship with the triune God. We can now grow into the nature of Jesus Christ. To always live up to this nature and put it into practice in word and deed is an expression of the victory we have succeeded in attaining over ourselves, over our old nature. Thus the rebirth also always constitutes a task for us, namely to live in accordance with the example of the Righteous One.
We can also gain victories in perfecting our love. This will be the focus of the third Sunday service. Consistent actions in accordance with the will of God, a life in accordance with the gospel, and the honest longing to follow and strive for oneness in the mind of Christ are signs of perfect love for the Lord. However, they also remain challenges for us in which we are to gain victories again and again.
These individual victories help us to remain faithful to God, and also assure us of His faithfulness—and indeed His help. The divine service on the fourth Sunday describes the aspects of our faithfulness to the Lord and the joys associated with it. We see that committing ourselves to God and rising to the tasks He has assigned us allows us to be joyful despite all the upheavals of life.
Ultimately, “Christ in us” also effects a most outstanding victory: tolerance of our neighbour. On the fifth Sunday of the month, the divine service will provide us with instructions as to how we can remain benevolently inclined toward our neighbour despite all differences and foreignness. Here we are often tempted by the evil one to exhibit rejection, hatred, and prejudice. Let us use the example set by Jesus to counter this.