I have lots of friends who are afraid.
More and more, the reality is sinking in that Christians who seek to exercise their faith in every facet of life represent a small minority in America. Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are at various points along the continuum of the five stages of grief in coming to grips with the extent to which we find ourselves facing the reality of life in a hostile culture.
The Bible teaches that our faith isn’t cheap…we’ll pay a price for our faith relationally and we can expect to suffer for being followers of Christ. Except we haven’t really believed it. We’re coming to see that we can’t expect our Constitution, politicians or political parties to protect us. But those of us who’ve read to the end of the Bible are compelled to recognize an inconvenient truth. No matter how hard we fight for our beliefs, a time will come when the society as we know it will inevitably collapse and great tribulation will come. While no one knows the time when this will occur, we know it will occur. I look forward to the time that Jesus returns to re-establish his kingdom on earth…I don’t look forward to the stuff that will precede his return!
It’s unsettling to recognize that God’s story is not about us. Forces are at work that are much larger than ourselves. We recognize from reading Scripture that lots and lots of God’s people suffered throughout history. Millions of God’s people experienced untold suffering through 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Lots of innocent men, women and children (including the prophet Jeremiah) experienced the consequences when God allowed Babylon to lay siege to and conquer Jerusalem. One of the eleven original apostles who remained faithful to Jesus experienced a natural death, and Paul repeatedly experienced calamity and torture prior to enduring a martyr’s death.
The reality of living the Christian life in a postmodern culture is starting to sink in…
- We struggle with the feeling of being powerless.
- We dread the prospect of our faith being put to the test.
- We’re grieved by the ugliness we see in a society that has increasingly abandoned God’s principles.
- We fear for our kids having to live in the world that we’re leaving them.
How might we “fight the good fight” in the face of our fear and despair?
We need to embrace the calling God has given us to be “salt” and “light” in the time and cultural context in which he has placed us. Our engagement in the culture plays a vital role in protecting the most vulnerable…including persons with disabilities. We’re the pushback against the unintended consequences of radical notions of individual autonomy… including post-birth abortion and physician-assisted suicide of persons with depression or autism. Our attitudes and actions toward the marginalized of society…children who have been traumatized or abused, kids and adults with mental illness, persons with intellectual disabilities put the love of Christ on display and present a compelling argument to narratives about Christians and Christianity.
We need to ground ourselves in God’s Word so that we’re prepared to recognize his voice when he seeks to communicate with us and so we might communicate that truth with others when presented with the opportunity to do so. Scripture is the standard by which we might evaluate the teaching of leaders who themselves are vulnerable to the influences of the culture we share.
Finally, the best way to fight back when we fear for ourselves and fear for the culture is to be about the mission that Jesus left for us…the work of making disciples.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV)
We were made for a mission. We can live in a way that will turn heads in a culture becoming increasingly hostile to Christ and his message through making ourselves available to God to serve his purposes.
God is the potter and we are the clay. We don’t get to choose the times in which we live, but we get to choose how we will respond to the times in which we live.
You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.
2 Corinthians 2:2-3 (MSG)
When you’re tempted to mourn the ways in which our culture is becoming more and more broken, consider how you want the letter of your life to read from this place and time.
Postscript: If you’re interested in using your gifts and talents to advance the mission of Key Ministry…promoting meaningful connection between churches and families of kids with disabilities for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ…we’d love to hear from you! Have an idea for how you can help? Message us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and let us know how you’re led.
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Wow! Might just be your best column yet, Dr. Steve! Uncomfortable reminder of inconvenient truth to which we are called!