You can already feel it. This coming year is going to be a rowdy one, again. Depravity didn’t leapfrog 2019. And according to my Bible, it won’t do so this year, or any year until glory….Even more than our speculation, we know this next year is going to be a rambunctious one. “Evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).
What are God’s people to do amidst an uncertain 2020? How can we best prepare ourselves for the bumpy ride? Just about every year has been a rough one for God’s people. His Word is given for such a time as these. We need to keep the main things the main things.
1: Read our Bibles
There’s a sense in which the crazier times get, the more we need to read Scripture. It’s really the only constant in the world. It’s a lamp to see in dark times. Scripture lights the only safe path. It anchors us when the worldly winds beat hard. It invigorates when we are weary. It gives wisdom when swimming in a sea of foolishness.
This past year was like living in a constant burlesque. Doubtful things will change. Marinating our minds in Scripture keeps us sane. As increasingly gross manifestations of depravity become the norm, it’s easy for us to become desensitized. So, we have got to stay planted in Scripture. And, amidst the absurdity of the times, Scripture is the only thing to keep us from losing it. May God’s people read Scripture this year.
Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble
2: Enthusiastically plug into a NT church
A sound New Testament church is like an embassy of Heaven. Sure, even a good church is imperfect. But it really is a beautiful refuge amidst a perpetual Vanity Fair. Like the much needed refreshment provided for weary Christian at the Palace Beautiful, a Biblical Church is a haven for God’s people.
And there’s simply no substitute. How could there be? Christ is building the Church. He makes no mistakes and doesn’t need back-up plans. So, the Church is His main thing now, and it needs to be for all who profess His name. If you’re going to survive the times, you must enthusiastically plug into a New Testament kind of Church. The Church is a greenhouse for the Christian in a harsh, parched world.
The Church is that institution in and through which God’s people make eternal difference. Think about it. What other organism did the most powerful Person in the universe promise to build and bless (cf. Matt. 16:18)? So, plug all the way in. Become a member. Joyfully serve. Become a part of what God is doing in the church. Trust Him that, though it’s not as flashy or adrenaline-inducing as the local political rallies, PTA meetings, protests, and such, it’s the place where God’s blessing is constant.
“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24-25)
3: Pray a lot
Five minutes on the news or Twitter can elevate one’s blood pressure. It’s normal to be tempted with anxiousness in times like these. Every headline has the potential to induce anxiety. But, as regenerate children of God, we now have a real way to offload the jitters.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)
Spending ten minutes before the evening news can cause you to blow an arterial o-ring. Spending ten minutes before the Throne of Grace will cause you to walk steady. Turn the man-ward Twitter rant into God-ward supplication. Channel steaming at your unregenerate co-worker to supplication before Almighty God. Let our fuming in front of the TV mature into affirming God in prayer. How can we possibly hear and shoulder the daily devastating headlines? We can’t. And playing ostrich is not an option for Christians. Pray. And keep praying.
4: Live godly lives
Paul’s exhortation to Titus always gets me. There he is on a monstrously iniquitous island; in utter and complete moral bedlam (cf. Titus 1:12-13.) And what is Paul’s command for Christians to enact change? Just be godly. That’s it. Nothing about protesting or picketing. To really be effective in tumultuous times, Paul basically says this: older men, be godly (Titus 2:2); older women, be godly (Titus 2:3-4a); younger women, be godly (Titus 2:4b-5); younger men, be godly (Titus 2:6-8); employees, be godly (Titus 2:9-10.) Just be godly. God will pepper the culture with salt and light as you season yourselves in godliness. A simple reading of the New Testament tells us that is His plain old, timeless plan for Christians in a rowdy culture.
For some of us, perhaps, godliness isn’t flashy enough though. We want to exchange our blue-collar attire for tights and a cape. Godliness, we suppose, is thinking too small. It will get in the way of making real change. But we’re not wiser than God. This is the way He wants it.
Have God’s people ever lived in uncertain times? Have Christians ever lived in political, social, and moral chaos? Much of the New Testament was written into such contexts. The book of Revelation was written during some terrifying times. Yet, much of the exhortation to the Churches in chapters two and three was toward godliness. The call was to just be godly.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven.” (Matt. 5:14-16)
5: Tell people the Gospel
Like all uncertain times, the culture around us does not need an external behavioral scrub. They can’t change themselves any more than the leopard can de-spot himself. The answer to true change has always been simple. We need a spiritual heart transplant. We must be removed from Adam’s cursed race. There is no end to the capability of man’s depraved nature. The only thing natural man loves more than sinning is sinning more. In doing so, he has rendered himself deserving of eternal punishment from a holy God.
What possibly could solve such a conundrum? Earthly solutions are laughably impotent to effectively undo even one, much less all, of man’s predicaments. What can judicially forgive an individual’s millions of sins? What can absolutely render man righteous before holy God? What could actually remove a person from Adam’s line? What can completely transform the depraved nature of a sinner? How can we remove our spirit and put in a new one? What can rescue us from Hell?
We can’t. But God has comprehensively addressed these problems in one Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. His lived the life we could never live, so that He could die a death that would accomplish what ours never would. The effects of His life and substitutionary death bring a sweeping transformation in position and spirit for all who surrender their life to Him in faith. It’s stunning what Jesus accomplishes for those who embrace Him as their sin-bearing Lord and Savior by faith alone. Forgiven. Guiltless. Righteous. Regenerate. Born again. New spirit. Redeemed. Adopted. Sealed. Sanctified. Preserved. Glorified. One day, resurrected. Hope.
That is the message that an uncertain culture needs to hear. They just need the Gospel. And God calls us to speak. He saves people and sends them to speak the good news of Christ crucified and risen in our place, for our sin. It was the same approach in the Early Church. Culture was chaotic during the days of Acts. And what is the Church busy doing? Much of the book of Acts is someone preaching the Gospel.
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16)
We need not overcomplicate things. Pray for opportunities. And then, by God’s grace, speak Christ crucified.
Uncertain years are nothing new because human depravity is nothing new. Thankfully, our great God has inerrantly and sufficiently outfitted us with what we need to live in such times in His Word. May God’s people stick to God’s main things: reading Scripture, plugging into a Church, praying, living godly lives, and speaking the Gospel. We can trust God that His approach is sufficient.
Above article written by Eric Davis
Edited and updated by Bijou Green