“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:1-5)  All right, let’s see a show of hands.  How many of you enjoy winning?  Thanks, put your hands down.  Now, how many of you enjoy losing?  It wasn’t even close!  Our passage this week reveals to us the most important clue to winning, or using John’s words, victory.  To be victorious, so victorious that we conquer the world (v. 4) we must trust in the victory of Jesus.  Our only path to winning in the only way that ultimately matters is to trust our lives to him.  Now here is where it becomes interesting, you might say.  John (having witnessed it himself) is quite certain that Jesus’ path to victory was the way of the cross.   Therefore, what that means is that the only path to winning is by way of what the world judges to be losing.  By first century standards, there could not be a more perfect picture of losing than a man slowly dying on a cross.  Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world are realizing this in their persecution because of their faith in Christ.  They literally are losing all (including their lives) because they have chosen to follow Jesus.  There is no ambiguity in the path to victory that they are willing to walk.  But how about you and me who live in the land of religious freedom?  How do we follow this strange path to victory?  Well, much of the time, I can barely answer that for myself, let alone anyone else.  Still, I believe this: I find myself closer to Christ and his victory when I am willing to let go of all the other ways that I seek to save my life.  I discover that I am moving on to victory when I forgive rather than hold a grudge.  I find that I am winning when I reach out rather than hold back.  I find that life is found in giving rather than clinging.  I discover that the words of that old hymn really are true:  “And then I cried, ‘Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit’ And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.”  How about you?  Have a great week!