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The Pulpit: What do we do now?

From a biblical perspective, the downward decent as a society doesn’t mean that we should hang our heads, sigh in despair and just pray that Jesus comes soon. That is not how the early church responded to conditions that make our circumstances look like a Sunday school picnic in comparison. Some Christians think we should all wear a sandwich board lettered with the words: “The End Is Near.” Well, that may be true but no matter how dark the storm clouds get, believers are still the light of the world. The gospel is still vitally needed as men, women and children face an eternity of God’s judgment. To whatever degree He is pleased to grant, we are still to hold back the corruption of this dying world by word and deed. As an example of how one person can make a significant difference, let me share with you an article I came across regarding Pope Francis. “After his election, the new pope rode back to the St. Martha guesthouse with the other cardinals rather than using the papal car. He chose to live in the guesthouse rather than in the opulent papal apartment. He regularly welcomes trash collectors and cleaners to daily mass, carries his own luggage on planes and is driven in a Ford Focus.”

But his lifestyle was part of a deliberate strategy. In April 1973, at the age of 36, he became head of all Jesuits in Argentina and Uruguay. He was forced to confront a number of divisive issues, some theological and others political. By his own admission, his leadership style was divisive and autocratic, leading to significant controversy and opposition. He identified the authoritarian and egotistical elements of his personality. And he adopted behaviors intended to counteract these weaknesses. For instance, he developed the habit of ending all encounters by asking the other person to pray for him. He chose to take public transportation, live in his own apartment and cook his own meals. By the time he became pope, his commitment to acts of humility had become his lifestyle. My point is that who we are affects more people than we might imagine. As Oswald Chambers noted, "A river reaches places which its source never knows." Each of us has a “sphere of influence” which has to do with the people we know. Every person you come in contact with is impacted by you to one degree or another whether you realize it or not. Recently I received a Facebook note from a high school classmate that frankly I did not remember but he remembered me.

He commented on how my best friend and I touched his life because of the Christian values we held in high school (still do). He envied our belief system and how we lived. Later in life he came to Christ and now fills the pulpit when his pastor is away. We simply never know how far the ripple effects of our lives may go. So, yes, the culture is worsening by the day. You see, white is never so bright as when it is up against a very black background. We should rejoice that we live in this day and age because the contrast between true disciples of Christ and those who follow the darkness of this world has never been so stark as it is now. As James said, Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (Jam 1:2-3 ESV) So, praise the Lord, pass the ammunition of God’s Word and persevere by God’s grace.

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