“ . . . the children of Issachar who had under-standing of the times, to know what (God’s people) ought to do. . . “ 1 Chronicles 12:32
Wouldn’t it be splendid if 21st century believers had a ‘go to’ group of folks who consistently knew how to best respond in a godly way to the unfolding issues of life? Oh, for the spirit of Issachar!
Our present cultural and political environment is daunting in its gravity and complexity, and there is often no significant agreement among professing Christians about many of the salient issues. A remedy for that will require divine help.
I would, however. offer just three suggestions which may help some saints tackle these times with a bit more clarity and confidence. They are not particularly profound but, in my view, they are foundational for this moment. The first may be, for some folks, a deal-breaker. But consider . . . .
- Resist the ‘Evangelical urge’ to merge every event with the ‘Book of Revelation’ template in one’s effort to respond to it.
Believers surely value the Revelation for its great truths and images of the Savior’s ultimate triumph. Its opening verses say we’re blessed if we read it and hear it! However, its closing verses contain a warning to anyone who ‘adds to these things.’ No matter how intriguing they are, believers do not benefit from the flood of charts, graphs, and books claiming to explain Revelation’s present application or to locate it in time. They’re unwaveringly wrong.
Jesus’ own disciples enquired of Him about His Kingdom’s impact on their national interests, just as many believers are doing with the USA today. (Acts 1:6-8) “It is not for you to know times and seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power . . . “ The saints’ holy concern, Jesus said, is not cultural or political but rather the spread of rich testimony to Him and the gospel of His transforming grace.
Viewing every wind of change in society through a prophetic prism is to envision the future in a likely distorted and even fanciful way. I urge saints to lay aside concerns for the ‘End Time’ and let’s deal with what’s happening in ‘Real Time,’ stuff that requires our prayers, our best sound sense, and our unwavering obedience to the Word and the Spirit.
- You, the church, and your God-given assignment, is unaltered and unimpeded by the present distresses. (Romans 11:29)
Most believers are making significant adjustments in their normal faith practice as church meetings, and even smaller gatherings are being avoided. Nevertheless, let me assure my fellow pilgrims that Kingdom purposes are unfolding without a hitch.
We have great empathy for the pastors and church workers who are laboring to bring assurance, direction, and hope to their scattered congregations. Our prayers are surely with them.
Unlike church structures and systems, vulnerable to the tides of chance and change, Kingdom saints have a clear pathway for service; each one biblically empowered to speak for Jesus through the uncertainties, whether a pandemic, economic duress, racial tensions, or political turmoil.
The kingdom is simply God among, and within, His people, and those people are the church. I urge every believer to stand up inside and embrace this opportunity to demonstrate that living reality! The fact is, the church is never closed, never silenced, never broken as long as you and I are on our feet!
That simple truth leads quite naturally to my final suggestion:
- Take ownership of the gospel.
Permit a brief quote from my book, You Are the Plan; God’s Account of Your Remarkable Story
“For the Kingdom of God to function as He intended, organically, it needs to be driven by living things, not systems. Saint Jude reminded the church that the faith (i.e. the gospel) was given ‘to the saints.’
. . . . It is our faith, yours and mine. To ‘take ownership’ means to accept part of the responsibility for the message, to set a high value on one’s own understanding and experience of it, and to take seriously the trust God has placed in His people as representatives of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 5:17-20)
We can all tell the story, and though each of us will tell it with a little different flavor, it will nonetheless be genuine; “My gospel,” as the Apostle Paul liked to call it.”
Late last year I spoke briefly to The Antioch Group of this present season being a ‘kingdom moment.’ Little did we know the coronavirus would shortly impact our lives very quickly and profoundly.
While there is conflicting information surrounding the pandemic and how to appropriately respond to it, the saints have a unique opportunity to bring the Spirit of Jesus to bear on the fears and concerns of our friends and neighbors. The kingdom of God is a community of peace, faith, and hope, and those things are sorely needed by most of the folks you’re presently influencing.
The image of you and your family carrying on with joy and purpose is an uplifting and enlightening window into the blessings of the Kingdom. We have the assurance that behind and above all we see is the providential hands of our Father, clearing the way, illuminating our path. Even the hardships will re-enforce that unconquerable Spirit we enjoy.
‘You Are the Plan’ for this remarkable time. God has you ready to identify and carry out new ways of serving, blessing, connecting, and communicat-ing. Your daily plunge into the tasks-at-hand will uncover divine appointments and God-ordained prospects you would have never anticipated.
For the people of God, it’s always ‘Our Time!’