A Note From Matt 1/4/18

Happy New Year!

Well, it is a new year and depending on your perspective, it could be happy or anxious or maybe a little mixed. As I’ve been thinking about how God’s been working on me in navigating our culture, I thought it would be good to pass some of the things I’m learning on to you. So, throughout this year I’m going to be sharing with you five anchors that hopefully will give you some stability as you navigate the world around you.

Anchor #1: The Church exists to work for supernatural change.

I’m not going to list it all out here, but in Ephesians 2:1-10, Paul talks explicitly about how every one of us was once dead in our sin. D-e-a-d. Then, he moves into how God, through Christ, made us alive. That is the foundational understanding we must have if we are to understand our mission and not give up in frustration. Let me unpack this idea …

God takes people who are spiritually dead and gives them new life. We need to think about life in a way that reflects the spiritual reality of the effects of sin on the human condition.  Here’s how I’ve come to see evangelism: evangelism is done in the cemetery. That may sound gross or disturbing, but it’s absolutely true. Those who are without Christ are dead. Dead people do not respond well when we try to interact with them. In fact, talking to a dead person is impossible.  And that’s exactly what God is calling us to do—that which is impossible in the flesh! Only God can take someone who is dead and make them alive. We need to remember that our arguments, illustrations, doodles, and even our example will not bring life to a dead person. It is God and God alone who can breath the breath of life into a dead person. We do all those things to influence but rely on God to do the supernatural.

There never has been a time or a culture where it was natural to repent of your sins.  I often hear people talking about how bad things have gotten recently. People used to be “better.” I don’t actually think that’s true. In this world, a culture of repentance does not exist. It never has in the past existed nor will it ever exist in the future. Repentance is not a human value.  In fact, it is eschewed as something that we would want to avoid at all costs. Think about it: is there a place or a time that repentance has been the value that culture is built upon? It should be that way in the Church; but even there, repentance is hard to come by. Repentance is an act that is fueled by the supernatural power and prompting of the Holy Spirit. We would be wise to remember that!

Finally, current changes in our culture have made our job 0% more difficult than it was in the past. I don’t know what era you grew up in, but many of us see the past as simpler and oftentimes better. Evangelism and discipleship seem like they were easier years ago. Here’s the truth, though; 50 years ago, 100 years ago, and 150 years ago, the Church was trying and doing the impossible as it continues to do today with no more and no less help. Dead people being raised to new life is always equally difficult to accomplish! It might be different today; but let’s be honest, there are no degrees of difficulty to raising the dead. It takes the same amount of supernatural power to do it in every case. We need to remember that there are no cultural excuses to stop living and sharing Jesus!

All dead people have one thing in common, they are dead. Therefore, when a dead person comes back to life, the only force at work is Jesus Christ and what He does has been consistent from the beginning. Remembering this should be an anchor that gives you stability as you live as a light shining in darkness.

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