Live Faithfully in a Broken World

April 27, 2022

Leadership Notes


Years ago…I think I was in kindergarten when it opened…there was a Broadway musical titled, "Stop the World - I Want to Get Off." Not being a musical theater kind of guy, I know nothing about the play. I can only remember big people talking about it those many years ago. Sometimes the title alone fits my mood. "Stop the World - I Want to Get Off."


Martin Luther captured our fallen world perfectly in this verse from "A Mighty Fortress is Our God":


For still our ancient foe does seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.


Do you ever sometimes get the feeling like you don't belong here?


While not everything falls into the category of blatant evil or wickedness, we do live in strange times:


* Ten years ago, Big Pharma was the target of anti-corporate ire. Now, people willingly line up for a third or fourth vaccine because Big Pharma says it's good for us.


* Ten years ago, anti-corporate sentiment was occupying Wall Street and extolling socialist economic ideals. Now, some of those same people are clamoring to support the likes of Disney and Netflix and CNN. Ironically, many of those same voices have always been stalwart in their devotion to everything Apple.


* Almost ten years ago, a tech titan bought a legacy media company. The response was best summed up as "Meh." Now, a tech titan buys a digital media company, and some are declaring the end of democracy and free speech as we know it.


Strange things are a regular part of life. What do we pay attention to and what do we ignore? Sometimes it's hard to tell what is innocuous and what is consequential. It can be a wait and see game. That's one of the points of The Book of Revelation. We pay attention to what goes on around us. We're dialed in to cultural shifts and changes. We are curiously aware of what the government, both through its elected and unelected officials, is up to. That's one of the themes running through Revelation. "The Beast" takes on many forms, be they political, military, judicial, or economic.

Where does our loyalty lie? Remember Revelation 5:9? "Worthy are you." It was a direct challenge to the command to worship the Roman emperor with the words, vere dignus {worthy are you}, praising him. Those words were for Christ and Christ alone. Revelation 5:9 was an act of civil disobedience.


To further quote that great hymn:


And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God has willed his truth to triumph through us.


As things, great and small, unfold around us, how do we engage the public square? What of the culture and our participation in it?


The Koch brothers are billionaires who have built a huge network of libertarian and conservative activism. To some, they are evil incarnate.


George Soros is a billionaire who works behind the scenes to shape government and policies in a more liberal fashion. To some, he is evil incarnate.


As we study God's Word, we know that while we are in this world, we are not to be of this world. And so we negotiate our way through cultural issues and politics and who defines right and wrong, and where we bend and where we dig in our heels, and how far does love go? While we would never go so far as to say we face dynamics similar to the first century church, we do grapple with the trials and tribulations resulting from living in a pagan culture.


The Revelation to John equips the Body of Christ to live faithfully in a broken world. Until we die, or Jesus returns {whichever comes first}, horrible things will happen. Even so, we must produce fruit of the Spirit. We will worship God…we will serve Jesus Christ…we will love each other…we will love our community…and we will do these things joyfully. Here's how John Piper captured the promise of The Revelation to John:


"What this means for our emotions is that deep confidence in God's

sovereign wisdom and goodness is profoundly transforming to our

emotional reaction to horrible things. We are made able, in a

supernatural way, to have a soul-rest in God amid terrible calamity.

This is not the same as indifference. It is not callousness or lack of

compassion. It is not the absence of tears. But it is rest. It is a sweet

repose on Jesus.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose/I will not, I will not

desert to its foes.


There is a profound emotional repose - a deep restfulness of soul - even

as we know the horrors of calamity and persecution - including our own."


Finally, on our way toward being contrarian to our culture, here is advice on seven bad habits to put to death:


1. Seeking Validation.


2. Having Expectations of Others.


3. Avoiding Mistakes.


4. Worry.


5. Taking Your Feelings Seriously/Being Ruled by Your Feelings.


6. Harsh Judgment of Others.


7. Talking Before Listening.


It's a good thing when we dare to be different. And now, your Moment of Spurgeon:


"THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IS THE PILLOW UPON WHICH THE CHILD OF GOD RESTS HIS {OR HER} HEAD AT NIGHT, GIVING PERFECT PEACE."


With Much Love and Affection,


Richard

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