November 17, 2008 Ration
Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Jesus had just sent out seventy-two brothers and gave them authority over the power of the enemy. They returned in great joy and testified, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name (10:17)!
Exercising such authority would no doubt be joyous! It is in fact what Jesus sent them out to do. Yet Jesus both cautions and exhorts them. The spirits are subject to the name of Jesus, not their name. And Jesus has granted the brothers such authority that when His name is employed, the spirits submit. This spirits fear the power of Christ. They fear no man. So while it is beautiful to behold the fleeing of spirits, which should produce a joy in the Lord, we, as men, should rejoice that Jesus will not subject those whose names are written in heaven to the same fate of such spirits.
Artists, Jesus has given us various powers, gifts, and authorities in this life, that when employed, will result in much joy. But let us all be careful to recognize where the power, gifting, and authority comes from.
The caution: Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you . In the arts, a major temptation will be to rejoice in a power that we have, a gift that we possess, or an influence that we sway to the end that we begin to rejoice in our position as the gifted one. But when in a position of strength, it is easy to forget that our strength has been endowed to us (I Cor. 4:7), making room for the caressing of our pride. However, if we can maintain a right and humble mind, the joyous result of an exercised gift can be enjoyed as a manifestation of the greatness and grace of Christ in us! Not our greatness, but Christs. Christ is to be rejoiced in in the exercising of His grace through us, indeed. But as it concerns us, His grace to us has a far greater consequence.
Therefore, the exhortation: but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. It is because of Gods prerogative that our names are written in heaven in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain (Rev. 13:9), not because of any power that we might wield over spirits. This is the very argument that some will give on the last day: Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles (Matt. 7:22)? To which the Lord replies, I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness (7:23). So in context, what is my rejoicing when a spirit departs at my mention of the name of Christ, if I myself am not named in the book of Christ? Our subjection to and deportation in the name of Christ will soon follow the spirits.
Artists, this is such a great reminder to keep our rejoicing in the grace of God to us in any grace that He grants through us. And rejoice we should, because it is all unearned, unmerited favor for our enjoyment of God! In our artistry, where God grants us an authority of kind, let us not rejoice in who is subjected to us, but let us rejoice in the graciousness of God as He loves to give to those who are in His Son. So, however God has equipped you and wherever He sends you, rejoice from the ground that your name is written in heaven. Then you will know how to rejoice in Christ, and not in yourself, when your various artistic victories serve to edify the brothers and sisters.
© 2008 The Gaius Project