These daily practices will remind you of God’s sovereignty in your life and in the world.
It would only take a quick glance at your social media feed to answer these questions:
Have your Christian friends and family members generally become more positive or more negative over the past couple of years? When you read their posts, are you encouraged and inspired? Or do you sense a spirit of hatred, fear, hostility, or anger?
I’ve noticed the latter. And yet, there certainly are reasons for believers to feel out-of-sorts.
Want to jump straight to the 3 memorable principles (B.I.O.) God has provided to help us navigate a fractured world? Use the links below.
Changing Landscape of Values
No one would disagree that we live in a hostile world. Whether it’s disagreeing about the pandemic and its related controversies or arguments about politics, the tension is everywhere. But that’s not the changing landscape I’m talking about here, since differing perspectives are expected and normal.
For the first time, many believers in America are experiencing frustration and hostility because of their values and principles. And yet, followers of Christ have been experiencing persecution for centuries.
I’ve met many believers over the years who have requested prayer, not to be delivered from their difficulties, but to suffer well. Needless to say, that is not a prayer request I typically hear in America.
In the States, the days of biblical values are gone and many of us are now — for the first time — on the outside looking in. The world no longer supports beliefs like:
- Clearly defined right and wrong
- Marriage as a forever commitment
- The integrity of one’s word
- Gender defined by one’s birth anatomy
- The nuclear family as the bedrock of society
In its place are new values, many of which are antithetical to the Scriptures. Naturally, this is the breeding ground for hostility and dissension as we find ourselves in a new climate.For the first time, many believers are on the outside looking in. The world does not value what we value. Will you respond in fear and anger, or will your actions point to God’s kindness and love? Click To Tweet
A Believer’s Response
What are your thoughts and attitudes and actions about what’s happening in the world? Are you fearful?
Fear will paralyze us and bitterness will destroy our soul. That was the reaction of the Pharisees and zealots and even the disciples at times.
How do you plan to respond? Will you:
- Complain about the world’s new ways?
- React in shock at the cultural shift?
- Act in defense and anger?
Or will you declare God’s sovereignty and seek Him for answers and faithful ways to thrive in this world?
I like what the Gospel Coalition says about God’s sovereignty:
“The major components of God’s lordship are his control, authority, and covenantal presence.”
In His lordship, we can face adversity, challenges, and an uncertain future! And yet, we still struggle and are uncomfortable with the marriage of our faith and discomfort.
Were we not warned? Let’s go to the Scriptures for answers.
Before His crucifixion, Jesus cautioned us about coming trials:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Paul said it very clearly:
“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
And finally, Jesus’ disciple Peter said:
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)
How have we overlooked these verses and assumed we were going to avoid the persecution our brothers and sisters have been enduring for many years?
Questioning God’s Sovereignty
It’s time we stripped away the expectations that we’ve acquired as American Christians. An ideology has permeated our faith that says, “If I check all the boxes and live a moral life, things will go well!”
Except, when things don’t go that way we automatically think God let us down. Or we’re baffled by our bad fortune and begin to question God’s sovereignty.
And yet, of course, we naturally want lives filled with blessings, void of tragedy and pitfalls. The problem is when we dilute the truth of Scripture into self-help advice and completely miss the counter-cultural instructions we’re given to demonstrate our faith.
Renew your mind with truth: Truth Cards Study Tools
Romans 12 Christianity
When you study Romans 12 you’ll discover a primer of sorts on how to live as a faithful believer. Paul teaches us that true spirituality looks like transformed relationships, living sacrificially, loving our enemies, sharing our resources, and much more.
And as we enter into a new era that’s reminiscent of the 1st century, we need to know how to live out a Romans 12 existence in this new era.
Lessons From Acts 4
Inspired by Acts 4, I refer to these principles of transformation as B.I.O. More on the acronym below. But first, let’s remember what events were taking place in Acts 4.
- Peter and John healed a man and then taught about Jesus’ resurrection
- The leaders didn’t like what Peter and John had to say and threw them in jail.
- They appeared before the Sanhedrin and Peter preached an incredible sermon.
- They were released!
“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.” (Acts 4:23-24a)
After, they were filled with the Spirit and began sharing everything they had and “with great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” They were on mission!
Here’s an easy way to remember these foundational principles that will ground our faith in every type of circumstance.
Get equipped: 12 Powerful Scriptures For Spiritual Warfare Resistance
3 Memorable Ways to Show God’s Sovereignty In A Changing World
1. B — Before God Daily
The pathway of God, in both the Old and New Testaments, is that individual people will say, “I will discipline my life and arrange it to come before God.
For example, our goal in churches can’t be to just pack a building for the sake of numbers. Rather, we disciple believers to live out a Romans 12 faith where followers are:
- Surrendered to God
- Live separate from the world’s values
- Have a sober self-assessment
- Love each other
- Serve in love passionately
- Supernaturally respond to evil with good
I consider this a clear instruction to believers on how to react in every kind of climate — peaceful or fractured.
Hear more about applying this principle in a recent YouTube series, What Now? What Next?
Whether the current climate is fractured or peaceful, Romans 12 provides clear instructions for believers: surrender to God, live separate from the world’s values, love and serve others, and respond to evil with good. Click To Tweet
2. I — In Community In the Presence of God
Romans 12 Christians who are professing God’s sovereignty in a changing world get connected from the heart and get into community where they seek the wisdom of the Father together.
In a healthy community the “real” version of us shows up, with our spiritual gifts and purpose-filled existence, living alongside brothers and sisters in the faith, much like the Acts 4 example.
This is not to imply that community is easy and drama-free. On the contrary, it’s a grace-filled opportunity to refine us and teach us to live out the Romans 12 principles.
Identity reminder: 10 Powerful Bible Verses That Reveal Your True Identity In Christ
3. O — On mission 24/7
Looking again at Acts 4, Peter and John weren’t trying to figure out how Jesus could make their lives easier. They didn’t pray, “Oh God, change the circumstances. Oh God, stop the persecution.”
How did they pray?
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29-30)
They welcomed more events like the one that had taken place, that had gotten them arrested! They were on mission 24/7, fulfilling God’s agenda for their lives — for His glory, not theirs. It wasn’t about them and it’s not about us.
Unique Opportunity to Demonstrate Love
Finally, let’s turn to Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:38-48. Here, he illustrates the shocking instructions for living faithfully and certainly counter-culturally:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Clearly, our love and kindness are not to be reserved for those with whom we agree and have an affinity. On the contrary, loving those we are unlike us gives us the unique opportunity to demonstrate a Love like no other.
Our love and kindness are not to be reserved for those with whom we agree and have an affinity. On the contrary, loving those who are unlike us gives us the unique opportunity to demonstrate a Love like no other. Click To Tweet
Thriving in a Changing World
When practiced, the B.I.O. principle will refine us in such a way that we can sense God’s leading as we move forward in life, not enduring the circumstances, but thriving and awaiting opportunities to point people back to Him. If we believe in God’s sovereignty, we are equipped to bring healing to a changing, hostile world — for His name’s sake.
To explore more ways we can thrive in a changing world and apply God’s principles in uncertain and hostile circumstances, listen to a recent teaching on my YouTube channel entitled, What Now? What Next?
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip