DO YOU WONDER HOW THE CHRISTIAN FAITH CAN BECOME MORE EFFECTIVE IN DEALING WITH ISSUES OF POLITICS, EDUCATION, THE MEDIA, AND DAILY LIFE?
- Our first allegiance should be to God, not to a political party (Tony Evans)
- Our root problem is simple and tragic: people will accuse the truth of being a lie if it contradicts lies they want to believe are true . . . . Although the Bible never mentions democracy, its bedrock principles of freedom and equality have deep roots in Scripture (Jim Denison)
- Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed — else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
- So many of the things we say God blessed us with are distractions given to us by our adversary the devil designed to turn us away from Jesus (Darren Smith).
TEXT: Ephesians 5:14 “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
How can Christians think and contemplate biblical solutions to many of the cultural problems in our world today? While the choices people are making seem to lead to what makes the world grow darker and darker, it is more complicated for those who have had a history of being dominated by other cultures. Add the divisions necessitated by democratic politics as Jim Denison notes, though in a different culture, ‘Many Christians publicly disown and attack other believers who share the same beliefs in Christ but who are voting for the ‘wrong’ candidates’. That means those Christians seem to feel a more common bond with people of the same politics than of the same faith. When those who claim to share eternity with Christ begin rejecting not just leaders that they did not vote for but each other on political, moral, or ideological grounds, then the ability to flourish or even function as the light of the world is endangered. It is important to examine the integration of faith and the worldview. ‘And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.’ (Romans 13:11).
WHAT DOES WAKING UP FROM SLEEP MEAN?
To wake up from slumber or sleep begins by gaining self-consciousness, rising up from the ‘bed’ with choice of attitude. One can wake up with mind focused on being grateful for the new dawn or fear or a complaining mind, feeling inadequate, etc.. It is possible to mistake parasomnia with wakefulness. These are involuntary actions that occur when one is asleep that includes movement, talking and other unusual acts. One asleep can also have dreams that may seem as real. A person who is awake is able to distinguish between the voices around while actively, continuously and carefully selecting the knowledge that guides the beliefs leading to moment by moment choices. Thoughtfulness and consciousness of an all-consuming way of life applicable to all spheres of life is a sign that one is awake. A person who has spiritual awakening is described as mature, able to distinguish issues and even teach others (Hebrews 5:11- 6:1-3). To wake up is to intentionally examine thoughts because the way people think is influenced heavily by the norms and habits of those around them. The way people assess what they know, what they need to know and how to bridge the gap is what determines their effectiveness and relevance as ‘salt and light’ of the world. It is those who are awake, who are able to examine how the generally accepted beliefs of a people direct their thinking into what is genuine worship of the Lord versus the cultural beliefs that limit them from bringing out their best and eating the good of the land (Isaiah 1:19) . That means a Christian who is awake seeks to understand among other issues, the relationship between development, culture and poverty.
WHAT WAKING UP MEANS TODAY
An awake Christian takes the prevailing belief system and commonly shared values and attitudes, and examines them against the word of God. One has to make a decisive break with shared meanings in regard to issues that relate to the deepest questions of purpose and nature of life. If what people do makes them oscillate over the same issues then there is a need to break away from the beliefs that support that system. For example, if in every general democratic election, the candidates who garner a majority of votes are labeled as corrupt and not responsive to the needs of the people, then there is a need to examine the values of the guide. Christians are expected to shape the people’s view of life in a way that they value and live out what the bible teaches. It is imperative to understand the world in which we live and our role in it as God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
THE IMORTANCE OF CHRISTIANS RECOGNIZING THAT THE HOUR HAS COME TO WAKE UP FROM SLEEP
Limited from realization of full potential by lack of resources or the mindset – It is visible in the societal fabric that the mental inclination or bias makes a great difference. For example during COVID-19 crisis, Cuba, with a population of eleven million was more effective in its response by producing three of its own vaccines, while many African nations depended entirely on the Western world for their future (https://www.theelephant.info/op-eds/2022/07/29/back-to-the-future-imperialisms-strange-bedfellows/). The Christian’s attitude of the mind or way of thinking does not follow the cultural patterns or habits but is informed by the word of God (Romans 12:1-2). That means the gathering together of believers should be the most exciting time as people share the new insights resulting from a mind renewed by the word of God. It should be a faith crisis that provokes deep sadness and reflective fellowships when diseases that are curable, poverty, corruption and lack of planning result from non-visionary living, ravage their country. What did Jesus Christ mean when He said ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’ (John 6:35). It is the Christian who has a duty to uncover the power to transform organizations, families, nations. If the mindset is returning people into the same thinking that results in being dependent on others, then the Christians should question whether they have really engaged with the one who is the bread of life.
Pragmatic or just doubting God – What may look realistic and matter of fact or common sense may be a path that encourages a transactional relationship with God. The thinking that it is reasonable to expect God to return the favour when one has done what is considered good is moral deprivation. At the heart of this belief is how sin is defined. If sin is understood as any thought or act that is not motivated by uncontested love of God and His people, there is a feeling of being owed when one has kept the score card. ’Sinning is any feeling or thought or speech or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all other things’ (John Piper). God’s love is unconditional and so is His mercy and faithfulness. ‘Our deepest problem and worst sin is doubting God. When we doubt God's goodness, when we think that God cannot be trusted with the things that matter most, we will quietly, but with tight–lipped resolve, take over responsibility for our own well-being–with disastrous results’ (Larry Crabb). Whenever human action is placed higher or given priority over pursuit of God, then there is blindness. It is learning to listen to God that the principles that transform nations are applied in every sector of life and economy. Total dependence on God and refusal to rely on our understanding is what unleashes the knowledge necessary for transformation. ‘A wife who is 85 percent faithful to her husband is not faithful at all. There is no such thing as part-time loyalty to Jesus Christ.’ (Vance Havner). Total trust in God, result in listening to His counsel in every aspect of life. Poverty, corruption, short term individualized solutions to what should to what should concern the total community should be prayer items. Innovations, trade expansion and spiritual revival should be related.
The human condition – The condition of being human is all of the characteristics and key events that compose the essentials of human existence that include birth, growth, relationships, living arrangements, death, and the motions attached to them. Life is a journey that has seasons and changes even as the people are changing. The firmness of the anchor that one holds onto makes so much difference because of constant changes in the individuals such as sicknesses, aging and outside changes that include the systems and international relationships and world markets, and so on. ‘This is what the Lord says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord’(Jeremiah 17:5) The hymn says,’ Stand up, stand up for Jesus! Stand in His strength alone, the arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own’. Human beings who cheer, support and elevate a person are the same ones who jeer and abandon the same person. The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, whose commitment led Britain to emerge victorious in the Second World War, knew what it is to be revered by people and in a short spell of time to be rejected. Though in May 1945 he was feted and celebrated everywhere, with an approval rating of 83%, in July of the same year he suffered a humiliating election defeat. Commenting on the sudden change a journalist says, ‘electoral fate shows that democratic elections are not won due to past achievements, personal glory and celebrity status, but because of a persuasive and realizable program for the next four or five years. Winning parties or candidates need a vision that addresses the genuine concerns and deep anxieties of the voters’ (https://theconversation.com/when-a-winner-becomes-a-loser-winston-churchill-was-kicked-out-of-office-in-the-british-election-of-1945-129746). If the man who is famous for encouraging others not to give up, was deeply hurt, depressed and felt abandoned, how about the politicians who did not get what they desired. The human nature is to expect others to value what they value and when they fail to do so there is a feeling that they are not good. If one is deeply attached to his/her values, this difference can feel like a threat to identity and so people act in self- protecting ways.
A Christian who is awake has consciousness of how the systems in which he/she lives influence the everyday decisions of the people. The power of the gospel to transform individual lives has been clearly evident throughout New Testament history and it is the transformed people that transform their nations. There should be a refusal to systems such as education where fear and pain are used intentionally, in order to subdue the person and have the person act without thinking. Whether it is a ‘worship’ service that encourages people to ignore their mind and abandon their will to the system or anyone who is not the Holy Spirit should cause concern. God does not strip His children of their freewill. To act as robots because corporate or communal identity has been instilled so as to encourage obedience is counter Jesus' teaching, ‘teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:20). Wide awake people allow the word of God to transform their thinking (Romans 12:2). How do you explain the darkness and poverty that enslave your culture and even nation? Might you and others with whom you share Christian faith be underestimating the power of God's truth to transform society?
‘If you do not plan to live the Christian life totally committed to knowing your God and to walking in obedience to Him, then don´t begin, for this is what Christianity is all about. It is a change of citizenship, a change of governments, a change of allegiance. If you have no intention of letting Christ rule your life, then forget Christianity; it is not for you’ (Kay Arthur).