“California will run out of water in one year!” Well, that was the headline that caused me to stop and read the whole article. Further reading confirmed that though there is real concern about levels in that state’s reservoirs, a repeat of the Dust Bowl is not imminent! The shocking, the dire, the desperate, the sensational grabs our attention in all the static that is daily life.
Are you one of those Christians who needs a crisis to get motivated?
Do acts of devotion decline when is life is good?
Do you only pray fervently when some ‘prophet’ publishes a sermon proclaiming God’s imminent judgment on America?
Entire ‘ministries’ are built around manufacturing ‘crisis.’ Taking a kernel of truth, these prophets of doom know how to profit from fear. There are those who predict the demise of Christianity by pointing to the sin and secularization of America. Selected statistics produce great alarm (and bigger contributions!). When I was a teen, the 1970’s, the sermons and books of the preachers in evangelical Christianity warned of the rise of the Anti-Christ and the coming of a world government that would bring a bloodbath of martyrdom to the faithful. A whole generation of Christians lost sight of the richness that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit could bring to their lives due to bad eschatology. (study of End Times) Too many of us built our entire spiritual experience around fear instead of hope! Paranoia replaced vision! Instead of confidently embracing God’s Gifts to build the Kingdom of Christ in the world where they lived, millions of Christians fearfully hunkered down in their churches, staring at charts that predicted an imminent Great Tribulation and hoping for the Rapture!
While some of us waited for Jesus to deliver us to Glory, others heard the call of the Spirit to go and make a difference in Jesus’ name by the power of the Holy Spirit. In spite of all the doomsday preaching of that era, the Church has grown by leaps and bounds in Latin America, Africa, and even – wonder of wonders – in Communist China! Lest you be concerned about my convictions, let me assure you that I love the promise of the Second Coming of Christ. But, He will not just come to save a few, He will come to show the world His splendor, to defeat evil, and to set His Kingdom in place! Peter tells us that the troubles of life should not make us cower in fear. Look at his encouragement. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world.” (1 Peter 4:12-13, NLT)
Are you living behind walls trying shut out every threat that some fire-breathing TV preacher exaggerates? Are you reading all those books that declare the end of the world? Sin and suffering are real. God does allow nations to drink the cup of His judgment, to be sure. But … if you are living in awful fear, I want to gently suggest that you have missed the major part of the Story! Christian, God wins! Jesus is King! Satan is defeated! We are held firm in the grasp of One who will never let us. Read the glorious 8th chapter of Romans! In one brief, breathtaking passage, we are told of God’s plan, about our destiny as His children who now call the Lord of Glory, “Abba!” That means -“Dad!”
We are urged to keep faith even as we work through the difficulties of life. The chapter closes with this shout of victory. It is the word from the Word today. “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-32, 37-39, NIV)
Oh, and here’s one more amazing, inspired text that fills me with confidence today despite living in a world that is marred by Darkness and Death. “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:15-17, NKJV)
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
— 8th Century Hymn