21 Jan 2015 by Jason Law CM –
During the 1960-1970s, there was a historical happening that took the world by storm. It was not that this event was unprecedented, for just barely two decades before it, people had gone through a truly cataclysmic experience that spanned almost the whole globe. It was the fact that the Vietnam War was the first conflict that was broadcast so vividly on television. For the first time, people knew how it was to go through an adversity like this. The fact that it took place in a nation that is so close to our shores didn’t help either.
While all this was before my time, I remember that even while growing up in primary school during the early 90s, my classmates and friends were all very informed about the Gulf War. It seemed like that there was nothing else to talk about and everyone talked about the war. So it is untrue that children are too young to understand these things.
Now, all these things happened before the commercial Internet came in and there was still a degree of censorship in the media. Today, anyone can access the Internet and the kinds of videos and images you can find there are beyond the control of anyone’s restriction.
People often forget that Christians are, by nature, humans, and sometimes we do struggle with faith. How could we not after watching whole assemblies of children purposefully slaughtered because of their faith, or live beheadings with dull knives?
Most of us, including Christians, already know how the world is; that it is full of chaos and that there is nothing that has really changed in the human condition since the time of the blood sports in Rome’s arenas. So we do not really need to hear about how persecution is going to increase or about ‘God’s judgment’ on those who can’t stay resilient in their faith in these moments, because honestly, we have already heard about this and know about it.
Many people are seeking for answers, and though they are no easy ones, we must disciple believers especially in areas of faith. Because if we do not do so, and if they cannot find answers in God, many Christians, especially from the younger generation and young in faith, will drift away in search of answers from elsewhere.
I am writing this article with much guidance, through the pointers in one of the recent sermons by the Assistant Senior Pastor of SIB KL, Pastor Lew Lee Choo. In her sermon, she shared an important message about what we can be certain of and what will kill our faith during times like these.
Things That Will Kill Our Faith
Pastor Lew shared three things as caveats about what has an ability to kill our faith:
- Outward Religion (2 Timothy 3:5)
Pastor Lew defined outward religion as ‘holding a form of Godliness but denying its power’. The Gospel tells us that there were many times that Jesus Christ spoke out against the Pharisees, and that it was not about them as a priestly people but because they were focused inordinately on the outward show of religion.
Our faith in God must be something real to us and that can only some through an authentic relationship with Him; through prayer, through receiving counsel from His word, through fellowship with people who genuinely know the Lord. Placing a focus in the right places is the most important thing in the lives of Christians and we must not be unduly focused on what will bring temporary pleasure or going through a series of motions and merely following the Law.
- Fear of Men (Luke 12:4-5)
The dominant struggle of this age is in the fear of men. We know how much damage and destruction men can bring upon those who are in opposing positions to them, but we often forget the power of our Lord. Despite the circumstances we cannot be dominated by fear. We cannot camouflage that physical death may be painful but it is temporary and cannot kill the soul.
We need to develop a perspective in our lives and always remember that our souls are in the hands of God. One day we will all be accountable to God for our actions on Earth, and any hardship and suffering we go through in this live for His sake will be made right through Him. We need to recognize God for who He is and cultivate a fear of the Lord. Ultimately, our souls are what truly matters because they are eternal.
- Dependence on wealth (Luke 12:16-21)
The central thing that we can learn through the tragedies in this world is the transient nature of earthly things. People who work hard throughout their lives can be made bankrupt through wrong investments or swindling. Our loved ones will one day depart this earth, at times in a sudden and unexpected manner. That is the nature of tragedy, but it also teaches us that what will preserve us is not wealth. If we build solely on earthly things, we are going to be building on sand and risk exposing ourselves to the vagaries of the human condition.
Things That Are Certain In Difficult Times
While Pastor Lew gave three cautions, she also shared that there are in fact more things we can be certain of in God. In her message, she shared five of these:
1. The Sovereignty of God (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
If anything is going to sustain our faith, it is not going to be our own strength but knowing where to find faith/hope from. And there is nothing that rings out most clearly to people who know the Lord and His word, than His sovereignty. Despite all circumstances and what the visible world may show, very often we read about how God delivered His people. Many have even found God delivering us out of personal times of difficulty; during exams, when we were looking for our jobs, for some of us when we go through times of sickness and we thought we were going to die.
No matter what the circumstances may be, remember that everything owes their existence to Him and that He holds everything together through His sheer will. He is in absolute control and though we may not have the full picture, God knows what He is doing. This is one of the fundamentals we need to engage in; our faith in God’s ultimate power.
2. The Unfailing Love of God (Luke 12:6-7)
While the world judges according to whether one has a social creed or position, or a system of philosophical or political beliefs, one of the amazing things about God is that He meets people right where they are; whether they are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, broken or healthy, regardless of culture or race. The fact that an Almighty God could go to the extent of everything that He did 2000 years ago for our sakes, is the highest testament of His love.
The most visible sign for young Christians is when they see this love of God flowing with authority through the lives of mature Christians. There is power in fellowship and meetings such as prayer or cell groups. As Christians, we know that this is one of the certainties of life and we must disciple young believers in personally experiencing and finding this to be real for themselves.
3. The Eternal Value of the Human Soul (Luke 12:6-7)
God’s unfailing love for His people also shows the heart of God and how much each soul matters to Him. He is the Creator of everything that is good and things become corrupted when they are directed on paths away from Him. God is always pro-life and satan is always pro-death or -destruction. There is value in every human soul. Recognizing this will shape our perspective of life even in times of uncertainties.
4. The Importance of Being a Witness (Luke 12:8)
During times of chaos, many people will be seeking for answers. If we are mature Christians who are rooted in the Lord, we have an important ministry as His witnesses. We must ensure that the Body of Christ is united, develop an eternal perspective, and stop focusing on petty politics or other things that don’t matter in the long-run. Recognize that we are in battles with spiritual forces, that battles can either be won or lost and that discipleship is extremely important. Times of chaos can either sweep the Church away or become an opportunity to strengthen foundations, as growth process, a chance to become bright beacons and minister to others, and to expand the Kingdom of God.
5. The Empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:11-12)
Ultimately, of course, what it all boils down to is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. What will keep Christians strong is recognizing God’s sovereignty and knowing Him personally; His heart, His will, His work, His direction upon our lives. Responding to God not as a belief system but in an actual personal relationship is what will sustain our faith in the most difficult times. Everything that we do in life and every fruit that we produce comes through the work of the Holy Spirit and one of the primary purposes of God for Christians is in having an extraordinary, steadfast, resolute life; one that isn’t weak and susceptible to pressure but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
One of the greatest tools of the devil is to distract us away from God through the use of external circumstances. There is perhaps no other time so crucial for discipleship as the one we’re in now, and I am happy to see many Church leaders stepping up to the plate, but there are also many others who seemed to have lost the plot. The call of discipleship is a crucial one in the life of every Christian, one that each of us must respond and answer to if we really want an unshakable Church.
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