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Rethinking victory: Why we should reconsider that language

In my neighborhood, there are several churches with the word “victory” in their name, and there’s something about that language that bothers me. Probably because of the way it is used today.

There was a time when the victory was our sharing over Christ’s conquest over sin and death. For example, in Charles Wesley’s “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” we sing, “Where’s thy victory, boasting grave?”1

Today, however, the victories sought after are so much shallower. Christians seek victories at the election booth, in cultural divides, and elsewhere. It’s as if the language of victory has been co-opted by political and militaristic agendas, forgetting its deeper spiritual significance. When a church proudly proclaims itself as a “victory church,” it may tacitly endorse these misunderstandings of triumph, potentially alienating those who are seeking solace, community, and grace.

Finding another way

But what if we chose different words to define ourselves? Words that reflect the true essence of Christianity – words like grace, redemption, and reconciliation. Instead of proclaiming victory, we could emphasize the journey of faith which includes struggles, doubts, and ultimately, the transformative power of love.

Imagine a church where everyone is welcomed, regardless of their victories or defeats. A place where authenticity reigns supreme, and where the focus is not on conquering others but on conquering the darkness within ourselves.

So perhaps it’s time to rethink our use of the word “victory” in our church names and elsewhere. Let’s reclaim its true meaning and use language that reflects the inclusive and compassionate nature of Christ’s teachings. After all, true victory lies not in dominance or supremacy but in love, empathy, and understanding.

As we move forward, may we strive to be people of grace, redemption, and reconciliation. In doing so, may we embody the spirit of Christ in our communities and in the world.

  1. Wesley’s original words were: “Lives again our glorious King, / Where, O death, is now thy sting? / Dying once he all doth save, / Where thy victory, O grave?” Hymns and Sacred Poems (1739), “Hymn for Easter Day” p. 210. ↩︎

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