For everything born out of God conquers the world and this is the conquest, the conquering of the world: our faith. What is the conquering of the world if not faith that Jesus is the Son of God?
The above is my own translation. I wanted to point out a few grammatical things in the Greek. I think most of the translations miss the power and passion that is there in the Greek, and I hoped to bring that out a bit more.
This passage is a powerful testimony about faith. I recently heard atheist Richard Dawkins say that faith is a dangerous thing, something which threatens the world. This is only partitially true. Faith is a powerful thing, something which can tame the world. Faith drives people to action, even actions which otherwise seem impossible. It is what we have faith in which determines whether it threatens or restores.
According to John, faith conquers the world. It is important to note that in the Hebrew, nikeo is in the present tense, saying that faith is conquering the world. It is doing so right now. Faith is pushing the enemy back, and laying siege to the strongholds of this world.
But not just any faith; our faith. It is relevant that it is our faith, for we are born of God. Outside of context, one may argue that it is faith that is born out of God. Though it is true that faith comes from God in the sense that it is impossible to have faith with God enabling us by His grace, this is not what the text is saying. The word “gennenemenon” is the same word used in verse one to refer to the brothers in the faith. Therefore, we are conquering the world, not because of our might, but because we trust in the power of the gospel, in the power of the Son of God to restore all things to His Father’s perfect will.
So why do we not see this? Why do we not see the brethern overcoming the world today? Because we lack the faith. It would be incorrect to say that we lack faith that what we stand for is right. That’s not the issue. The issue is what we are placing our faith in. Are we placing our faith in the old marriage of our culture and Christianity? Are we placing our faith in earthly powers to fulfill the Church’s mission and responsiblities? Are we placing our faith in our good intentions, that if we want to accomplish good that God will honor that?
Or are we placing our faith in the very simple concept that Jesus is the Son of God? That fact, that truth should be the defining center of our reality. It is what we return to every time something stops making sense. It is what we consider before be embark on a journey or mission. It is the source of our counsel when we are unsure how to proceed.
Are you experiencing the conquest of the world in your life? Are you seeing the world defeated as you move? If not, then remember to focus on Him. This is not a “name it, claim it” kind of idea. Jesus defines the things that you should be asking for. Focus on Him, pursue Him. If you do, than there is nothing which can stand in your way, for He will empower you.