Thursday, July 16, 2015

Living in a world gone mad

In whatever you do, do it to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Let’s begin by praising God this morning that He is sovereign and in control of everything that happens. In today’s culture of fear mongering, we often lose sight of His sovereignty and don’t know how to live in a way that glorifies Him.  Between the homosexual agenda, rampant Islamophobia and the vilification of Christians, it’s easy to get confused about the “right” thing to do. Threats to our religious freedom and accusations about our faith and motives have a paralyzing effect. How do we stand in such times without offending and how do we love in a culture that has redefined love to mean permission and advocacy?

When I moved to Romania, I learned that many nations have battled with these questions before us.  In 1995 my theoretical questions of being a Christian in an openly hostile environment took on flesh and blood as I befriended people who had lived through years of repression and persecution because of their faith. Surprisingly there were two distinct groups of survivors. One group had openly opposed the government and the religious suppression—blatantly breaking laws and challenging restrictions. The other stayed under the radar and worked within safe boundaries—not abandoning faith but not making themselves targets.

Unfortunately, these two groups had not worked in tandem and tended to point the finger and accuse the other of recklessness or compromise, respectively. Who was right? I didn’t have the answer and I still don’t, but I’ve learned a few things along the way.  I hope sharing them will encourage you a bit this week to focus on the right things and to live boldly and free of fear for God’s glory.

1.     Remember this is not a battle for America, nor is it a battle over Israel, defeating Islam or wiping out homosexuality—it’s a battle for God’s glory as revealed in Jesus. Cultures will come and go. Acts 17:26 says that God made the nations, determined their appointed times and their boundaries. And he did it all so that man would seek God. America’s future is already written. We are witnesses to God’s determined plan and we can trust Him so…

2.     Don’t live in fear. Watching too much news can scare the bee-jeebers out of you and get your focus off of God’s sovereignty. The Bible clearly says where things are headed and they will get worse before the get better. Don’t fret over it, but prepare your heart and focus on what’s important. We KNOW the future, both good and bad, so we can relax and watch God work for His glory and our good.

3.     Seek intimacy with Him over comfort and material security . Often times, the reason our anxiety level rises is because we are scared of losing things that are precious to us. But all we have is a gift from God and we musn’t hold on to them so tightly that we forget to hold on to Him. He never changes, he is eternal, and he will never be defeated so when we put our affections completely on Him, we can be truly secure.  We are not living for the American dream, but for the Kingdom of God.

4.     Don’t hope in a political solution. This is not going to end well on earth. Will it be unpleasant for us? Probably. But God is good and sufficient and won’t abandon His people. Jesus came to bring personal salvation from sin, not political salvation through policy or privilege. Don’t hope in a new President or despair because of our present one. God is sovereign.

5.     Seek opportunity to share Christ before seeking opportunity to make a statement. What we believe is meaningless if we aren’t offering hope to a broken world. So don’t just fight for the right to publically confess Christ, publically confess Christ!

6.     Be bold about the WHOLE Gospel. Don’t be afraid to share the Gospel in its entirety, because that’s the only Gospel that matters. Sharing God’s love isn’t enough, nor is sharing God’s hatred of sin. The message of the Gospel is powerful and changes lives, but it must be about Jesus, it must call out sin, it must demand repentance and faith, it must be about dying to self and living for Christ, it must credit our salvation to Jesus’ blood and righteousness and not our works. Jesus is THE ONLY way. Yes! This will offend people and Yes! It’s intolerant, but watered down, its nothing more than an inspiring story and has no power. 

Does all this mean you should not bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple? I have no idea. Should we have the right to refuse? Yes, I think so. But as a believer, our rights as an American citizen are not really the point. Glorifying God in this world is. Do you bake the cake and share the Gospel? Maybe. Do you deny the request and share the Gospel? Maybe. Do you listen to the Holy Spirit at work in you and follow His lead? Absolutely.

I challenge you this week to spend as much time reading God’s word, praying over it, and listening to the Holy Spirit as you do watching news programs and reading articles on social media. Saturate your mind with God’s perspective or you will be drawn into despair and confusion in a world gone mad.

Help me Lord to trust you in these crazy times and to not fret as it leads to evil doing. (Psalm 37:8). Help me to glorify God in all that I do (1 Cor 10:31). Thank you that you established the times and boundaries of all the nations for the purpose of helping people seek after you (Acts 17:26).  Help us to go boldly and make make disciples, confident that you are with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Praying for you,