It’s easy to look around at everything taking place in our nation today and get discouraged.
The coronavirus and related economic impact are lingering into the summer. Some states are experiencing record numbers of new cases, suggesting the fight could continue for some time.
The George Floyd killing and its aftermath have brought racial issues in America to the foreground once again. Although America has done a lot to move beyond the problems of our past in relation to race, there’s undoubtedly more that can be done. But we’ve also seen the unfortunate truth that some elements in our society will exploit such tragedies for their own purposes.
On top of that, we’re in the middle of an election year in which some of us see no good choices, at least at the top of the ticket. I know that’s a controversial statement to make, but for those who are concerned about both policies and personal character, both choices leave much to be desired.
As I said, paying attention to the news these days can be a recipe for discouragement if we’re not careful.
Where does all of this leave us as God’s people living in troubled and changing times?
First, I think it’s important to remember what hasn’t changed. Amidst all the upheaval, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The word of God still stands. The promises of God are still as reliable as ever. The blood of Jesus still saves.
No matter what happens around us, it’s good to know that our God is still faithful and we can still turn to Him as our ever present help in times of trouble.
Our calling also hasn’t changed. As God’s people, we have two fundamental responsibilities that are true for every child of God.
First, we’re all called to walk faithfully with God in an ever-deepening relationship with Him. That stays the same regardless of our external circumstances.
Second, we’re called to be fruitful in good works. This can include anything from sharing the gospel with the lost, to delivering a meal to a shut-in, to mowing an elderly neighbor’s lawn, to volunteering at a soup kitchen, to raising our own children for Christ, to a thousand other possibilities. Times change, but God’s people are always called to love and serve others.
Putting these two callings another way, we’re to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Those are the universal commands that apply to all of us at all points in history, good or bad.
There’s no doubt that we live in complicated times with some complicated issues to examine. How God’s people interact with those issues and how we work to solve problems within our culture are questions we’ll most likely all need to wrestle with at one level or another.
But I’d like to draw our attention (mine included) to one more truth that is unchanging: this earth is not our ultimate home. For those of us who have believed on Christ, we look forward to a better home. We look forward to a time when all the hurts and sufferings and injustices of this world will be put aside and we’ll live forever in a perfect place called heaven.
That doesn’t mean we don’t work to solve problems now. It doesn’t mean we don’t try to alleviate suffering, fight against injustice, and stand up for what’s right while we’re still inhabitants of this earth. Indeed, those things are part of loving God and our neighbor. But when the darkness seems more powerful than the light, when wrong seems to triumph over right, it’s good to be reminded that there is something beyond what we see and experience in this world cursed by sin. One day the curse will be removed and we’ll rejoice with Him forever.
For those of us who are interested in politics, it’s easy to look for political solutions to the problems of our times. And lest I be misunderstood, let me say that I think it’s appropriate for God’s people to be involved in government with a view toward enacting policies that honor God and allow His people to lead the quiet, peaceable lives Paul speaks of.
But if there’s one drawback to our representative form of government, it’s that once every four years, many of God’s people seem to forget Who is really in control and instead look to man for the answers. We think that if only such-and-such a candidate is elected, victory will be ours. The curse will be lifted and God’s kingdom will advance.
But let’s not forget where our true hope lies: not in the halls of governmental power, but in Jesus Christ.
I know it’s easier said than done when the headlines are filled with gloom, but let’s focus on loving God and loving our neighbor. Do the work God has called you to do, whatever that might be. Walk with God each day and be fruitful in good works.
And remember that Christ has won the victory.
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