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What Now? What Next?
Making Disciples in a Disrupted World
In the day-to-day reality of increasing upheaval and discord, how are Christians to think and behave? How do we anchor our conversations and attitudes when everything in us wants to either retreat or lash out in anger? In this new series, Chip provides a biblical path to allowing Christ to reign in us and work through us no matter what's going on.More from this series
The world has never been through, in our lifetimes, what it’s in right now. And as I have talked with multiple friends and leaders and I mean, not here but all around the world, they keep asking me and I’m asking them, so, what now? What next?”
What are we going to do? What now? What next?” And that’s a big question also for the Church. And I’d like to take a crack together with you and address that issue.
And one of the little tools that I have used personally and we use at our organization, it’s called the “Four Helpful Lists,” it’s in your notes.
And if you’re asking yourself some of those confusions like, “Hey, what now? What should I do? What is coming up? What’s next?” Make a list. And in the column, write down in a column, “This is what is wrong.” Just in your personal life and what is going on. Family, finances, the world.
Make another column and say, “This is what is right,” and list all the things that are right. You’ll be surprised how many things are right that you forget about, because the wrong feels so loud.
And then you make a column that says, “What is confusing?” It’s hard to make a decision or know what to do until you get clear.
And the last little column is, “What is missing?” Often, the key to your future, the key is there’s a person missing or some information missing or something that is missing.
And what I’d like to do is flip that and walk through that process, not micro – my life or yours – but macro.
But I think if I got a group of you together and I said, “When you think of the world right now, what’s wrong?” I would hear things like, “Wow, morality. The decline of the Church. Sixty-eight to seventy percent of our own young people leaving the faith. Trillions and trillions of dollars of debt. Division, politically. Division, racially.”
We could have a pretty good list that we are all experiencing about what is wrong. And I want to suggest that in every era, we could make a pretty good list. But I’d like you, in your notes, if you would jot down Isaiah chapter 5, verse 20. Because in every era, there is fruit. Think of a tree. And there’s lots of negative or evil fruit. There’s the issue of the unborn. There are so many. There’s the issue of the sex trade. There’s the issue of education. There’s all kind of evil fruit.
But if you go down the trunk to the root, Isaiah 5, verse 20, in a similar situation, the prophet would speak for God and say, “Woe to you when you call good evil, and when you call evil good. When you call that which is sweet bitter and when you call that which is bitter sweet.”
And then he goes on and basically says when there’s a complete shift and you lose sight of God, lose sight of truth – which all morality, all relationships, everything is based on – I want to tell you, that’s the root. And if we are going to change personally and big picture, we’ve got to get to the deeper issues.
Then I’d say, “What’s right?” I mean, what’s right right now in our world? And we could make another list. But I’m going to ask you to open your Bible. Here’s what’s right – Romans chapter 8.
The apostle Paul, just listen to what is right, currently, for you and our world. Verse 26. “In the same way, the Spirit also helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts knows the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Here is something right for you right now: the Third Person of the Triune God is praying for you, He’s praying for me, He’s praying for America, He’s praying for our world.
Notice he goes on, verse 28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good, to those that love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” And then he talks about those who He foreknew He called. And then he says His ultimate purpose is to conform us to the image of Jesus.
So, we know, number one, right now, regardless of all the junk that is happening all around the world and maybe in your world, or in your marriage, or with one of your kids, or with your boyfriend, the Spirit of the living God is praying for you and the sovereign Father is orchestrating everything happening in your life or America or the world or India or Africa for a good.
And that good isn’t that it just works out our way or we will be happy and everything will be like the way we want it. But the good is that He will conform me, He will conform you if we lean in.
And He will make us more and more like Christ. And when more and more of us are like Christ, then we become that light and that love and that salt and that power that we transform things. That’s what is right.
But that’s not enough. He goes on. “What, then, shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all – how will He not also, with Him, freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen? God is the one who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died – yes, rather, who was raised who is at the right hand of God who also intercedes for us.”
Now, have you thought about this recently? I mean, you can just think everything is so terrible and it’s so wrong and there’s no hope and what about this and what about that? The Spirit of the living God is praying for you. The Father is working all things for your good. And Jesus is at the right hand of the Father praying and interceding for you.
Now, it’s His agenda He’s praying about. The condemnation, the fears, the struggle, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” And then he starts to mention some things that are happening globally. “Will distress, will tribulation, will persecution, will famine, will nakedness or peril or sword?”
And then the apostle reaches back into the Old Testament and he says, “No, for your sake we are being put to death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” That’s their experience.
“But in all these things we are overwhelmingly conquerors through Him who loved us.” And then he says why; here’s your hope.
I don’t care what your circumstances, my circumstances. I have seven friends – it all happened within about ten days, and I finally just, Theresa and I were talking, I got a yellow sheet of paper and I just had to list the seven names. And five of the seven have the most serious kind of cancers you can get. And the other two are in horrendous situations. And there’s – aren’t there just moments right now where you feel like there’s just waves of junk and negativity?
But Paul said, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels or principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And these four little lists is – here’s what I want you to know. What is wrong? Truth has evaporated in our culture. And now we are getting the consequences.
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There’s a way that seems right to a man, or to even mankind, and it’s the way of death.” And we’ve got our own way and now we are reaping a lot of consequences.
What is confusing? I think what is confusing in our day is we really don’t know what to do and there are so many different voices telling us what to do and where to go and how to get of this situation. Proverbs 16 says, “The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
Jesus, the first century, was so much like what we are living in. It was so bankrupt, it was so brutal, it was so violent, it was so unfair, there was such injustice. Whether for slaves or women, all kinds of people of color – if you weren’t…
And Jesus would say to those disciples, “In the midst of all of that, if you’re confused, ask and it will be given unto you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened. For everyone in the midst of a confusing world who keeps on asking and keeps on seeking and keeps on knocking – what? You’re going to find.
The final little thing here is the fourth question is, “What’s missing?” And if you are taking some notes and wanted to put a passage down, I would write down James 1:5. The biggest thing missing is men and women filled with the Spirit of God who have the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God is knowing how God has arranged life to work and following in that path in your specific situation knowing what to do, when to do it, how to do it in alignment with the Spirit’s working through His Word.
And we are in a very, very unique time in all of world history. And in my research, I came across a very interesting article. It was actually written in 2020, pretty early on, called The End of an Epoch: A New Beginning for Capital Markets in the Twenty-First Century, by Bruce Fenton.
I put the quote in your notes, because I think just seeing it in print. He says, “The measure of where we are today will not be marked as the beginning of a recession, or even a depression, but as the end of an era.
Listen carefully to this, especially if he’s right; I think he is. “Make no mistake: our old world is gone, and the way it works has changed forever. As with all such times, the change happened fast, and it is permanent. This will forever transform our lives, our markets, and our world.” But here’s the application, “It’s time for new ways of thinking and solving problems.”
What are the implications? I have three observations that I think are very clear implications for your personal life, for the churches in America, for the churches around the world, and also for countries and nations.
Number one observation is we must accept normal is never returning. How people communicate will never be the same, finances will never be the same, geopolitical structures will never be the same. The same and normal is never coming back. The sooner we accept that, the better. Some people will mourn about the past and they will be stuck in it.
Second observation is that we must rebuild because we can’t return. We’ve got to rebuild, we’ve got to – it’s a new paradigm, it’s new thinking. Because of the tragedies and difficulties that have happened, we will have opportunities to fix things that were systemic for years. And we’ll have a chance to rebuild things in new ways.
This is the third part that excites me, we must lead boldly. Underline boldly. In this kairos moment of history, in Greek there are a couple different words for “time”. Chronos is, like, from two o’clock to three o’clock to four o’clock. I’ll be there at seven tonight. That’s “chronos”, sequential time.
Kairos means it’s a window of time. It’s an opportunity. It’s a little slice, like Galatians 4:4. It says, “In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son.” Literally, it’s when the world was pregnant, there Roman roads and there was a bankrupt philosophy. And in this window of time, Christ strategically came.
And we are now living in one of those kairos moments. We have unbelievable challenges but unbelievable opportunity. And I put a little passage there from 1 Chronicles 12, because I think this is what we need to be.
It was a time of huge transition. And there was a group of men from Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel should do. My personal challenge to me first, to me and my wife, and then to you, understand the times. Discern what you should do, discern what God wants to do, and then get on board with what God is doing in this really strategic window of time.
There’s a lot of different opinions and a lot of different things, but I started from, “This is what I know the Bible teaches,” what I have studied and looked at is how great movements of God have happened historically in the Bible and through Church history, and there are some very definitive patterns about how it works and how it doesn’t work.
And I’d just like you, let’s go on a journey together to, out loud, process. Here’s my first point as we start our journey. Our world is desperate for hope, stability, direction, and deliverance. The world has never been more ripe for: We need a Messiah. We need someone to fix this.
And what I want to say is: Who is going to fill this void? And if we get just sort of unconscious and start focusing just on ourselves and our own little worlds, some people will fill the voids of what is happening in the world instead of who needs to.
I gave some options. Will philosophies and truth claims? We are seeing the rise of some old thinking and Marxism. We are seeing the rise of a lot of isms and new truth claims and religions. Will they fill that void?
Or maybe, will it be all science and technology? Oh, we’ve got all these problems, don’t worry! Science is the answer. Everything is empirical. We’ll just, there’s new technology that is going to solve everything.
Or will it be powerful people and institutions? It has happened all around the world; it has happened historically. When there is a vacuum like this, there are people with power, desire, and they’ve got a game plan.
Or number four, will it be the body of Christ? Will it be what happened in the first century? What seemed so even unthinkable, but it was like this little tiny group of twelve and this little tiny group of a hundred and twenty. And they were like a grain of wheat that fell into the earth and died and they brought forth much fruit. Because it wasn’t them trying to do God’s will in their power, in their energy. It was them dying to themselves and the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwelt in them and they lived in ways that by 313 A.D., of the sixty million people in the Roman Empire, thirty-three million confessed that they were believers of Jesus. Huge – they turned the world right-side up.
As during the plagues, they served and loved and died as they sang going into coliseums, thanking God for the honor and the privilege of dying for Christ. That’s a little bit different kind of faith, isn’t it?
I was in Jordan with a young doctor, probably thirty-two, thirty-three. There’s a contract out on her from Yemen. And we were meeting with her to help her and she just said, “I don’t expect to live very long.” “Before we go back, will you teach us to die well?”
And every time I get around people like that, all of a sudden, there’s a faith, there’s a lens, there’s a God, there’s a Spirit, there’s a truth, there’s a word that is so radically different than, “How is my life going? I’m not very happy. I’m not as fulfilled as I would really like to be in my marriage.
And by the way, all those things are true. I don’t want to dismiss them. But the American dream and the gospel, somewhere entered into a marriage about thirty, forty, fifty years ago and we have been asking all the wrong questions for quite a while.
It’s all about us. My fulfillment, my happiness. Jesus has become the self-help guru to give me a wonderful marriage and healthy, wealthy, and wonderful all the time. And if I sort of read the Bible, pray, go on a mission trip, and even give above ten percent, well, sort of the unconscious agreement is He has got to make my life work out. My kids won’t get in trouble and I won’t get cancer. And when those things happen, we say, “God, where are You?” We have claimed a God and a set of promises that are nowhere here.
When I’m in the Third World, they claim different promises. “For we have been called to suffer for His sake. Therefore, follow in the steps of Jesus who although He suffered, did not revile, but entrusted Himself to His faithful Creator.”
All I’m saying is I think the world is going to be a very different – it’s going to require a very different kind of Christian. And here’s the part that I am very, very excited about.
I want you to know that we have the greatest opportunity to experience God and make the greatest difference in the last hundred years at a minimum and possibly, no group of followers of Jesus, with the technology we have, with the world situation, probably not since the Reformation. And I will tell you, the Spirit of the living God will tap some people on the shoulder, and He will breathe life into some churches. And it probably won’t be a lot of them. And there will be a group of people that get it. And we will see God do things like we have seen in Acts chapter 2. We will see God do things and it will be swimming upstream.