Be In The World But Not Of It

June 8, 2022

Leadership Notes


As we move further into The Revelation to John, the scenarios are going to get more frightening as well as more subversive. Frightening in the sense that we'll see the consequences for unbelievers as God's mercy reaches its end point. And subversive in the way cultural, economic, and political wickedness is called out. This highlights the strong Biblical admonition to be in the world but not of the world. It's never a bad thing to be honest about the dark side of culture, economics, and people in political power.


While I don't know when we'll wrap up our current sermon series, I will be spending considerable time this summer preparing for our next series, on The Letter of James.


I spent the end of May down in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for the wedding of Carley LaPlant and Ryan Schumacher. Carley is the daughter of Jane and Bob LaPlant. I watched her grow up in the church. She and her family and Ryan's family were wonderful hosts for a lovely weekend. It was an honor to have been asked to officiate her wedding.


Joining me on the trip down south, my youngest son and I extended the road trip by a few days. It was a reminder that we are blessed to live in a great country. While not happy about how much {$} it cost to fill up the gas tank, the drive itself was a delight. Construction zones barely got a rise out of me! That weekend, the Sirius/XM Beatles Channel had a top 100 Beatles songs countdown with trivia and interviews and other such interesting tidbits thrown in, so time in the car was tuneful. And musically educational.


I love the changing topography of a road trip. Especially when heading south out of Michigan. {BTW, I would never trade living here for anyplace else in America. Except, perhaps, for the area around Lake Tahoe, California, but then you have to put up with the twin demons of water shortages and whack-a-doodles on the left coast. So that would be a stretch.} Anyway, this is a beautiful country.


We loved Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Talked with so many wonderful people, from National Park employees to fellow visitors. Hiked, took pictures, and bought a t-shirt or two. And ate barbeque. Lots of barbeque. Look, there's a Meijer as far south as Kentucky. There are several Culver's in Tennessee. So why can't there be a Sonny's BBQ somewhere in Michigan? In this regard, the south must rise again.


Two things, for me, are reaffirmed on a road trip. First, from kitschy tourist traps to natural wonders and everything else in between, America is a place of wonder and awe. Second, if the controllers/authoritarians…most evident in politicians and bureaucrats of all stripes…would back down, this country's future would be looking up. Most people, most of the time, want what's best for themselves, their families, and their communities. Totalitarianism is a symptom of the sin-sick soul. In that regard, we are moving in the wrong direction as a nation. But, oh, how the beauty is there, and the hunger for freedom drives so many of us! From sea to shining sea - from mountain to glorious valley - from big city to small burgh - we truly are blessed.


I resonate with this observation from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:


"One cannot think only in the low level of political calculations.

It's necessary to think also of what is noble, and what is

honorable - not only what is profitable."


Freedom is everything. In the deeper meaning, as Paul says in Galatians 5:1, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." In Christ, we are freed from the grip of sin and, to paraphrase further, from the tyranny of controllers, in all places, shapes, and sizes.


Finally, there's this from Erich Fromm, from his book, "Escape from Freedom," published in 1941:


"If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities

inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism."


Wherever you travel in this great country of ours, take a moment to thank God for where you live and praise Him for the beauty of His creation. Those are both beautiful things.


And now, your Moment of Spurgeon: *


"As riches cannot save from hell, so neither can poverty raise to

heaven. The grace and justice of God are independent of society,

and rank, and state, and condition."


With Much Love and Affection,


Richard


*Thanks to Tim Wilson for passing on to me a 1955 edition of "Morning and Evening," a devotional reading guide by Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

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