Standing Firm in a Hostile Culture

The American church is heading into unknown waters and difficult circumstances that American Christians have never experienced.  In some ways the modern church is beginning to look much more like the early church.  We are faced with some tough sets of challenges such as false teachers and cultural and political persecution. We have been on the road back to Rome for quite some time now.  There is an increasing hostility to the Christian faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A Changing Cultural Landscape

In the 1950s, it was culturally advantageous for you to be a Christian and belong to a church. It seemed like everyone went to church.  If you grew up in the Bible belt there was incredible social pressure to church.  However, over the past 50-60 years we have watched a rising secular and anti-Christian spirit begin to dominate the cultural landscape of the West.  The privileged position Christians have enjoyed in the West over the past 1,000 years is quickly being eliminated.  I believe that we are only seeing the beginning of a zealous secularism that seeks to permanently eliminate the church and its influence from the public square.

It is easy to be a Christian when you are the moral majority.  Can we stand firm in Christ as we increasingly become what Dr. Russell Moore has called "the prophetic minority"? In the coming decades we will have an incredible task of standing firm in Christ in an increasingly hostile culture.

Yet, it is easy to see the cultural reshaping of our country and be pessimistic about this.  It is a bad thing for our country, but I believe that this is a wonderful opportunity for the church.   The dead weight chaff of an uncommitted cultural Christianity is being eliminated, and the opposition we will be facing will be used by God as a purifier for the church.

Standing Firm in Hostility

May we stand firm in Christ regardless of the blazing heat that may be rising around us.  May we stand firm on the unchanging truth of the Gospel and may we boldly call all people to repentance and faith.  May we urge every man and woman to trust in Jesus as their Lord and as their savior.  May we unapologetically proclaim Christ as the exclusive means of salvation for all people as we stand on the solders of Christians over the past millennia who laid down their life for the cause of Christ.  As the early church father Tertullian said, "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church".

Lessons From a Tragic News Week

If you have been even mildly been paying attention this week, you will know that it has been a tragic week for America. It seems like every time we turn on the news we are hearing of some devastating story. The Boston Bombing. Poision Letters. Explosions in Texas.

It seems like every time we turn around, especially this past week we are hearing account after account of evil and tragedy. However, observing all of these events and the discussions surrounding them, there are a few lessons about ourselves and the nature of reality that we can learn.

Human Beings Long to Know Why

Anytime some unspeakable tragedy happens the question of why develops. Whether it is Aurora, Newtown, or Boston, we want to understand what would motivate someone to do the hanous acts. Our questions reveal something about the way we were created. Our souls desperatly long for justice and we desperatly long for understanding. We crave meaning. We are purpose seekers. It is our questions that reveal that we are more than just biochemical reactions. We are more than just the result of random naturalistic process. Our constant search for answers reveals that we are created in the image of God. The law of God is written on our hearts. We long for justice and we long for answers because God has created us that way.

The Fall Has Corrupted Humanity

As we look for answers, the question of humanities nature rises to the fore front of our minds. Are humans basically good or evil? With the rise of the humanist movement, the argument is that humans are generally good. However events over this past week shatter the dillusion of humanism and prove that their beliefs about humanity and the world fail to hold up in the face of reality.

It is here I believe that the Christian faith provides the best answer to the question of why and the nature of humanity. Humanity was created good in the image of God. However due to the Fall, man's rebellion against God, sin has come into the world and corrupted the created order including the human heart. You see the Christian faith alone provides answers to why humans can do incredible altruistic good and at the same time do unspeakable evil. The reason humanity is capable of the boston bombings is because of sin's power and influence in this world. The world is not as it should be, and it is only by the restraining grace of God that things are not nearly as bad as they could be.

Humanity Knows that there is Absolute Truth

In an age were postmodernism continues to greatly influence and shape contemporary culture, deep down we know that truth is not relative but absolute. Reading the articles and hearing the news shows we still use absolute terminology by throwing words around like evil. Deep down we all know that there is right and there is wrong. There are moral absolutes that are not decided by popular consensus. The terminology of referring to the actions this week show that even a media far removed from a Christian worldview will acknowledge that some acts deserve the label of evil and rightly so.

Christ is the Only Hope for this Broken World

The tragedies over the past week reveal that we live in a broken world. The world is torn apart by sorrow, suffering, and death. As families mourn the loss of loved ones and as amputees heal and learn to live without their limbs, cries of anguish will be heard and tears will be shed. Here again, Christianity alone provides any sort of comfort to those suffering. Justice is coming and judgement will be had. At the return of Christ all the evils of this world will be abolished and the effects of sin will be removed. Christ will execute his judgement because he is faithful and true. We long for justice, and justice will be delivered by God.

However, we must remember that you and I are broken too. We are sinners and rebels deserving of judgement and punishment. Yet it was by the mercy of God that he sent his son Jesus to die in our place for our sins. This is the incredible truth of the Gospel! The justice of God is preserved and for those who place their faith in Jesus, they will be spared of the judgement to come by receiving forgiveness of sins.

Christ is the only hope for this broken world. As we mourn, grieve, and cry in response to this unspeakable tragedies that have unfolded this week may we cry "Come, Lord Jesus". The King is coming. He has risen from the grave. He is coming back for his church. Sin will be eliminated and evil will be defeated. The sufferings of this earth will pass away and the kingdom of our God and King will endure for eternity!

YOLO, Live it for Jesus

YOLO. You Only Live Once. That is the cry of many teenagers as they tweet and talk about the choices of life. Just as Solomon tells us in the Bible, there is nothing new under the son. YOLO is just a recapitulation of the Roman philosophy known as “carpe diem”, which is latin for "seize the day". YOLO has caught on as a cultural phenomenon and captures the ideology of this younger generation.  As a result, Christian teenagers need to think Biblically about the philosophy of YOLO.  How should Christians think about the phrase YOLO? The thinking behind YOLO goes something like this. You are at a party and you are debating whether to pick up that first beer so that you can get drunk tonight. Should you get drunk? You only live once, so go for it.  Make the most of the moment and get intoxicated.  The YOLO philosophy continues in all aspects of life.

Should I have sex with my boyfriend? YOLO. Should I skip school and go to the movies? YOLO. Should I cheat on that test to get a good grade? YOLO. Should I pull this prank on this dorky guy? YOLO. Should I gossip about this girl in my class? YOLO.

You see, there is a root of truth in YOLO. We do only live once.  We have one chance to make the most of life.  You can't go back and relive tomorrow.  We must make the most of every day. For the Christian though, we don't use this truth as an opportunity to indulge our fleshly sinful desires. We don't waste our brief life on this earth indulging our every desire.  Rather, we live our lives completely for Jesus, and for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus.  You only live once, live it for Jesus.  Don't waste your life seeking vanity, seek Jesus.

Should you open up your Bible today and spend time with the Lord? YOLO. Should you share the Gospel with your friends at school? YOLO. Should you go on that mission trip at your church? YOLO. Should you sacrifice your own wants for others? YOLO.

Should You live a life of holiness and purity? YOLO.

You Only Live Once. Don't was your life on the pleasures of this world.  Live your life for Jesus.