2023: Growing and Standing Strong in a Brave New World
I'm not telling you anything you don't know when I write: the culture around is is rapidly changing. You already know this to be true. You see it all around you, in subtle and not so subtle ways. We are seeing a sort of 'Brave New World' emerge (and rapidly, I must add) in our culture, and this world is not merely apathetic to historic, Biblical Christianity, it is increasingly hostile toward it. As evangelicals who hold to historic, Biblical Christianity, the message we hear from those who shape culture is rather clear: conform, or else.
How then are we to live? This is the question that many professing Christians and many churches (some rooted in Scripture, some not so much), are asking. The temptation to lay low or to go along to get along (to conform) is great because these are the paths of least resistance, and, no one is in danger of losing their social standing, or worse (their job) if they go along to get along, or simply 'lay low.'
However, we must ask: Does God even give us that option? Does God want us to focus on self-preservation, or, does He have something far greater for us?
I believe if you belong to this church or if you regularly attend, you know the answer: He expects us to shine and to not conform, rather to be transformed from the inside out by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1,2) and to present ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice to Him, that is our reasonable act of worship in light of all that He has done for us.
Jesus never gives us the option to choose self-preservation and laying low if we are His disciples (see Matthew 16:25 among other texts). Instead, He calls us to take up our cross and to deny ourselves and to follow Him, to trust in Him, to abide in Him that we might bear much fruit for the glory of God (John 15:1-5). He calls us to be counter-cultural people who preserve and illuminate a world that is decaying and living in darkness (see Matthew 5:13-16). Jesus can call us to do these things, command us to do and to be these things because He is our Savior and LORD. If He is our Lord, then we will want to live for His approval over anyone elses (Acts 5:29, Galatians 1:10 for starters).
And, Jesus never gives us the option of simply 'playing church,' or being a half-hearted disciple. He never gives us the option of being a full-time Christian or a part-time Christian. We are either following Him and growing in our walk with Him or we are doing our own thing all the while professing His Name. We are either growing in our love for Him toward a wholehearted love for Him, or we are lukewarm...at best. We are either growing in our love for one another, for our neighbor, or we are simply tolerating others...at best. We are either committed to the Truth of His Word, or we are not.
If we are to stand firm and if we are to grow in this Brave New World, a culture where 'good' is increasingly called 'evil,' and 'evil' is increasingly called 'good,' we must choose whom we are going to serve, both individually, and, as a church. If we are to be useful to Him in an age that increasingly mocks Him, we must make certain decisions, now, and resolve certain things in our hearts and minds, now.
As we enter into 2023, beginning a new year, I want to challenge you to start the year off right by connecting with us either Saturday at 5:00 p.m. or Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. as we gather to worship. We are kicking off the new year with a mini-sermon series entitled 'Growing and Standing Firm in a Brave New World.' This study will be three weeks long and will address both our individual walks with Christ as well as our congregational walk with Him. After this mini-series, we will return to our study of the Book of Romans, verse-by-verse.
God has blessed our church tremendously in 2022 and as we enter a new year, He has positioned us to use us mightily for His glory. Let us be about that, about His business, individually and corporately, as we start the new year!
I look forward to seeing you in worship in 2023!
Grace to You,
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