Whether you live in the United States or the United Kingdom, you may be wondering “what now?” Whether it’s President Trump or Brexit, things are changing. Whether you voted Republican or Democrat, things are changing. Whether you voted to leave the European Union or stay in the EU, things are changing. If you live in other countries around the world, you may also be facing changes that are very challenging. So, we ask, what now?
Lest you think this is going to be a political post that favors one candidate or party over another, I invite you to read a post published during the Presidential Primary season a year ago – How To Choose The Best Leader For A Nation.
I’d like to address this from the Christian worldview, since that is what I believe to be true and lasting. I realize that if you have a different worldview you may not agree with some of what I’m going to share, so please share your thoughts with me in the Comment (Reply) section below and we can discuss our differences. Talking about our differences can be highly constructive, especially if we treat each other with gentleness and respect.
The first part of this series will be positional in nature. The second part will be practical. Our hope and prayer is that both will be helpful to the conversations we are having with family and friends during these challenging times.
The Christian Worldview
The Christian worldview means looking at all things from the viewpoint of Jesus Christ. Christianity is about Jesus Christ. Read the New Testament carefully and you will see that it is not about any particular label, party or denomination – it is about God’s Eternal Son, Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament of the Bible points to Jesus Christ and His purpose for coming from Heaven to earth –
“Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24: 44-47
The New Testament of the Bible points to Jesus Christ and His purpose for coming from Heaven to earth –
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:7-12
Jesus Christ pointed His followers to their purpose on earth –
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The Apostle Paul pointed Christians to their purpose on earth –
“… that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.” Ephesians 3:8-12
Paul stated clearly that a Christian’s life and purpose is different than what it was before they became a Christian –
“Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Christians and Change
Christianity has a history of 2,000 years. It had its beginnings in a small area of the Roman Empire and has grown to become a worldwide movement of God’s Spirit in the lives of people who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Christians have experienced a lot of change in the last 20 centuries. For any Christian today to think that what they are experiencing is a “first” or “unusual” is to miss the importance of both the Bible and human history.
Jesus Christ summed up the history of Christianity even as it was beginning –
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.” John 16:1-4
This is not to say that every generation of Christians in every country of the world would always suffer severe persecution, but that’s how Christianity began. It’s also how Christianity expanded rapidly throughout the Roman Empire. Jesus Christ did not hide from His disciples what following Him would mean for them. Many would be persecuted and killed; not all, but many. How would Christians get through it? What steps would they need to take to deal with massive changes in the relationships they would have with people who did not agree with them?
“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
We see the depth of the meaning of self-denial and taking up the cross daily in these words from the Apostle Paul –
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
The Eternal Son of God made Himself of no reputation. He took on the form of a bondservant and came in the likeness of men. Jesus Christ humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death on the Cross. That is the “mind” Christians should have as they live each day in their homes, their churches and their communities.
Is Christianity only about persecution, suffering and death? Hardly. We are also called to overcome. Here’s the rest of what Paul wrote about the mind of Christ –
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
We serve the risen Lord Jesus Christ. God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name – a name at which every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Jesus calls on His Church to overcome trials and testings wherever they live –
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God … He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death … To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it … And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations … He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels … He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name … To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 2 & 3
Does “overcoming” the world mean an earthly lifetime of sadness? Hardly. We are called to a special kind of joy that can only be experienced in true service to our Lord and Savior –
“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” Colossians 1:24-29
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
Before Jesus told His disciples this –
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” John 15:18-21
He told them this –
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. ‘These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:9-17
Following Jesus Christ has, is and will cost many Christians the earthly relationships they cherish most, but that cost does not come without reward –
“Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30
Christianity is hard, but not impossible. We will overcome the troubles of this world because Jesus Christ has overcome the world –
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Where You Live
I live in the United States of America. Where do you live? Whatever nation you call home on earth is just that – earthly and temporal. The journey of our life begins on earth, but it does not depend on nor end on earth –
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:20-21
Even as the Hebrew patriarchs understood, Christians must understand that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth and seek a true homeland, an eternal Heavenly country, that God will give them –
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16
In this famous exchange, Pilate asked Jesus if He was the “King of the Jews.” Here’s how Jesus answered Pilate –
“Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, ‘I find no fault in Him at all.” John 18:34-38
Pilate saw Jesus as belonging to an earthly nation – “Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me.” Jesus immediately raised the conversation to its higher truth – “My kingdom is not of this world … My kingdom is not from here.”
Christians need to do the same thing. We need to raise the conversation to a higher purpose, the higher truth. We are citizens of Heaven. We serve the King of kings and Lord of lords. Those facts will impact the way we think and act in every situation.
Living It Out
How then should Christians live in a world that is constantly changing? What do we do now? If we can grasp what it means to be a “new creation” in Jesus Christ, we can do what He wants us to do in the land where we live.
Please join us next time as we look at how to live out Christianity in a changing world.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.