We have seen the consequences all too often: over one million abortions each year, “drive-by” shootings occurring in every major city, and the suicide and assisted-suicide bills making their way through state legislatures. From the beginning of life all the way through to a convenient and planned exit we are witnessing a drastic change in the basic ways in which our culture perceives life. If it is true, as we have often been taught, that “ideas have consequences,” what are the ideas that have produced these sorry consequences? The answer isn’t difficult to figure out: “life is cheap,” accompanied by “life is an accident,” also followed by “life is purposeless.” To those of us who grew up in homes and institutions of faith it seems incredible that such ideas could have become so accepted by so many in such a short time. But this change hasn’t occurred overnight. It proceeded step by step following our rejection of the biggest idea of all: “Life is the gift of a loving God.” Once we turn our backs on “the God factor” everything begins to fall apart. That is the testimony of Scripture from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. We cannot ignore God and escape the natural and unwelcome consequences that must follow . Unfortunately, we are dealing with a society that has never read Genesis, Revelation or anything in between. But God’s people should have, and if our nation is to escape the awful fate of Old Testament Israel, then we must be active and not passive in seeking to avert the final consequences which must surely come upon our culture of disbelief.
Let me suggest some things each of us needs to do:
1. Pray for your country. Don’t just complain about the way things are. Pray for your leaders (both Democrats and Republicans).
2. Support leaders who recognize that the real issues before us are spiritual, moral and ethical. Don’t fall for the old lie that a person’s private life and values have nothing to do with his or her qualifications for leadership.
3. Commit your personal private life and values to God. Let your Christian faith determine what you say and do in public. Become vulnerable in your open witness for God and trust that He will honor your openness. Remember, He has done it many, many times to many people before you came along.
In short, it is time to replace the popular ideas with some older ideas that have been tried and tested. Only then will you notice some different consequences.
We all remember the story of "Doubting Thomas." He, like so many others today, said, "Unless I see it, touch it, and experience it, it isn't real!" He was, of course, referring to the resurrection of Jesus. Without the resurrection of Jesus the "Good News" of the Gospel falls flat on its face. As the Apostle Paul put it, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." (I Corinthians 15:14).
But that was before he actually saw the risen Christ. What happened to him? Doubting Thomas does not stay a doubter. When he sees the risen Jesus, all that Jesus had taught over the years now clicks in, and to his death Thomas is an outspoken advocate for his Lord.
Early Christian writers tells us that he preached in ancient Babylon, near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, where Iraq is today. He traveled to Persia, present-day Iran, and continued to win disciples to the Christian faith.
Then he sailed south to Malabar on the west coast of India in 52 AD. He preaches, establishes churches, and wins to Christ high caste Brahmins, as well as others. When the Portuguese land in India in the early 1600s, they find a group of Christians there — the Mar Thoma Church--established through Thomas' preaching a millennium and a half before.
Finally, Thomas travels to the east coast of India, preaching relentlessly. He is killed near Mylapore about 72 AD, near present-day Madras. Tradition tells us that he is thrown into a pit, then pierced through with a spear thrown by a Brahmin.
He who had so fervently proclaimed his unbelief carried the Christian message of love and forgiveness to the ends of the earth in his own generation.
Thomas would speak to doubters today, to those of us who have seen our hopes and dreams destroyed. Doubting Thomas would tell his story of how Jesus' life had intercepted his own. He would tell us of his fears and his doubts. And then, with a radiant, joyful face, Thomas, Apostle to India, would recount his joy at seeing and knowing the risen Jesus himself. "My Lord and my God!" he would say, as the entire direction of his life is changed forever.
Thomas was consistent enough to act on what he believed, and it took him to the ends of the earth. How far will your faith take you?
- Adapted from “Joyful Heart” Ministries
The Evangelist/Missionary/Writer E. Stanley Jones counted himself to be one of the happiest people alive. He once wrote: “I gasp in surprise and wonder. Life is working, and working with rhythm and joy. How did it all happen? I asked myself that question as I sat in a hotel room in Alaska writing. I looked up and saw myself in a looking glass and said to myself: ‘Stanley Jones, you’re a very happy man, aren’t you?’ I replied, ‘Yes, I am.’ And then the vital question: ‘How did you get to be this way?’ And my reply: ‘I don’t know. It is all a surprise to me, a growing surprise. I walked across a field one day and stubbed my toe against the edge of a treasure chest, jutting out of the earth. ‘It’s treasure!’ I cried. I ran off and sold all I had, including myself, and bought that field; and I have been hugging myself ever since, that I had sense enough to do it.’”
That treasure was, of course, E. Stanley Jones’ commitment to Jesus Christ. Find a humble person with a pure heart, a purpose for living, a love for people and a commitment to God and you will find a happy man or woman. Though that person may have suffered terribly in life, he or she will have a peace and a confidence that nothing in this world can defeat.
Why should we be so surprised at this? We find this message all through the Bible. David said, in the first Psalm, “Blessed is the man...whose delight is in the Law of the Lord.” Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” While we disagree with the theology that says “God always wants His people to be healthy, wealthy and happy,” we feel instead that God wants His people to be blessed. That may not always mean you will be on top of it all but it does mean that your life is going somewhere and counting for something.
Cactus Christian Fellowship exists to help people find and build upon a relationship with Jesus Christ. Such a relationship draws us into a life of meaning and purpose. It makes big demands upon us, but opens up enormous possibilities. Never be content that you have found a bit of religion. Be content only when you have found life.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship