daily Broadcast

How to Live for Christ Now, Part 1

From the series Hope of Nations

Do you feel discouraged by the relentless discord everywhere? Whether it’s political, racial, socioeconomic we’re being ripped apart in so many ways. In this program, our guest teacher John Dickerson gives very practical advice for believers to: find peace, walk faithfully with God, and make a difference in a world that’s spinning out of control.

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Message Transcript

How do we live for Christ? How do we have a place of truth and of peace and of joy in a world that is shaking and dividing? That’s the question we are asking. How can you live for Christ in a world that is not all bubbles and sunshine and rainbows and weddings, but in the real world? How can we prepare our kids to live for Christ in a world that is shaking and a world that is so divided?

It’s a question for us to answer as a group, as a church, and it’s a question for each of us as individuals to answer.

I’d like to imagine that my kids will grow up in a world that will always be peaceful and perfect and safe, but the reality is they are going to face and inherit a world that is divided and shaking.

Because the reality is, whatever political side you’re on or whatever side of a social issue you’re on, half of your neighbors disagree with you. And we live in a world where half of our neighbors disagree with all of us, no matter where we fall on these different political and social things. And so, how do we live for Christ in a divided world?

Or if we zoom out, we realize that we are on this kind of treadmill where every few weeks or months there’s either another shooting or another terrorist attack and the world shakes around us.

So, how do we live for Christ in a divided world and in a shaking world? That’s a question that, you know, if we are really serious about representing Christ and if we are really aware of what is going on in the world, it’s a tension that we will wrestle with. How do we live for Christ in such a divided world? How do we live for Christ in a world that is shaking?

Well, thankfully, we are not the first group of Christians to wrestle with this question of how to live for Christ in a shaking and divided world.

In fact, as I was studying Scripture to find God’s answer to this question, I came across something interesting. Did you know that God Himself wrestled with how to answer this question? Here’s what I mean. There was one time in human history when God decided that He would take on the form of a human. He took on skin just like you and had pain just like you and breathed the same air we breathe and drank the same water and He chose to come down into the human story to show humans the heart of God.

And here’s the thing. When Jesus was incarnated as fully God and fully man, He came into a world that was deeply divided. He came into a world where Romans and Greeks and Jews and Samaritans all had racist divisions about each other.

He came into a world where slavery was a global norm. He came into a world where women in most of those cultures I cited were treated as property and had no rights. He came into an unjust and a divided world and a world that was shaking politically, a world that would continue shaking. There was a time when Jesus looked at Jerusalem, where He did most of His public ministry and He wept because He saw that within decades, that city would be burnt to the ground. God Himself came into a divided and shaking world.

So, to answer this question, we can actually look to the Word of God and we can see exactly how Christ would have us live in a divided and shaking world. And I want to share that with you today.

God tells us the answer to this question in the gospel of John, chapter 1. In verse 14, it describes exactly how God, when He took on flesh and bone and walked among us for the purpose of showing His heart to us, how He came into a divided world.

It says this, “The Word,” that’s Jesus, “became flesh,” just like you and me, “and He made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory,” the people writing this, they had seen His miracles, they had seen Him raised from the dead, “the glory of the one and only Son of God, who came from the Father,” sent from heaven, and here’s how He came, “full of grace,” what is that? Grace is undeserved forgiveness, “…and full of truth.” That is, here’s what’s just, here’s what’s right, here’s what is wrong. And as we have learned in this series, God’s truth leads to freedom. Here’s the map to lead you out of slavery and into a life of freedom.

Now, you might have heard this verse before, but I want you to just think about the significance of this. Here’s Almighty God who created the galaxies and atoms and molecules and tyrannosaurus rexes and humpback whales and humanity. He created it all. He answers to no one. He can do whatever He chooses.

He made this beautiful creation and we know from the whole of God’s Word, starting in Genesis that He didn’t create cancer, He didn’t create genocide and war and rape and injustice and division and hatred and murder. All those evils come from us and come from Satan who, our ancestors invited into this world.

I want you to think of you spending time working on a master piece of a creation and you hand it over to someone to them to take care of it or manage it and they destroy it. And then you return, you know? Imagine you buy a rental house and you pick someone to manage it. And you come back and the house is just completely trashed. It’s going to cost more than you spent on the house to fix it back up. How would you return to that person?

Would you come full of grace and truth? If I were in God’s shoes, knowing the whole story of God and humanity as told in God’s Word, I would not have shown up in grace and truth. I would have come full of anger and wrath.

I would have come, as some people say, taking names and kicking buttskies. You know? I would have been angry. I would have been mad. I would have been, “What have you guys done? Why did you destroy all this? I told you if you make these choices, you’ll mess it all up and you’ll mess yourselves up. Why did you do that?”

He would have had every right as God to come in that way. But instead, He came quietly, humbly, full of undeserved forgiveness but also full of the truth. Christ came into this world full of grace and full of truth. Not full of anger and attitude. Not full of guilt and shame.

I mean, this verse could read, “The Word became flesh, made His dwelling among us, we have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of anger and wrath.” It could say that. And He would have been justified to do that. But instead, He came full of undeserved forgiveness and saying, “Here’s the map to set you free from your own slavery.”
So, how do we now follow Christ in this world? Here’s very simply what we are learning today. God sent us to show His grace and His truth to people He wants in heaven. Why do we exist in this world today? It’s not to just survive and make it. As followers of Christ we are on a mission just like God sent the Son into the world, He has sent us here for a purpose. And our purpose is more than just making it through. Our purpose is more than just hoping the next crisis will pass and we’ll be okay. Our purpose is more than just making sure our kids and grandkids are taken care of, even while the rest of the world falls apart.

No. We are here on a mission! And our mission is for very specific people, people you know who God wants to be in heaven. And how are they going to get there? Well, the only way they are going to know God’s heart is through a relationship with a follower of Christ like you who can show them God’s grace, His undeserved forgiveness, and His truth that there is a standard, that there is right and wrong, that there will be a judgment someday and that forgiveness is available to all people who turn to Christ, full of grace and truth. We are sent here on a mission.

There’s a verse in Scripture that says that God desires, His heart is that all people would come to salvation. That’s what God desires. But God also made us in His image and we have a free will and God allows people to choose if they want His salvation or not, just like He allowed Adam and Eve to choose if they wanted perfection in the Garden of Eden or sin, and they chose sin.

And so, God’s heart is that everyone you know would be in heaven someday. That’s what His heart is. And so, as we navigate a changing world, the reality is that everyone around us is a person who God loves and wants in heaven. Every Republican, every Democrat, every Conservative, every Liberal, every Socialist, every Capitalist, every Muslim, every Atheist, every person of every tribe and tongue and nation – we are broken by sin, but we are all made in the image of God. And Christ came into this world to reconnect humanity back to God.

And why, after we place our faith in Christ, why doesn’t He just teleport us to heaven right away? Because there’s a mission for us to continue and that is to show His heart of grace and truth to specific neighbors, classmates, relatives of ours who God wants to be in heaven.

I wonder who in your life is one specific person who God wants to be in heaven. Would you picture a face in your mind or if you’re taking notes, write down a name? One specific person in your life who God wants to be in heaven. Are you thinking of someone? It might be someone who is a follower of Christ right now, maybe a child or grandchild of yours and they are on that track and by you showing God’s grace and truth, you’re going to keep them in that path.

Or maybe it’s someone who is far from God right now. Maybe they don’t believe in God right now or they hate God or they’re just far from God. And for them, it’ll be a miracle of God reaching out to them and them responding. Who is that person in your life who God wants to be in heaven, who you want to be in heaven?

And as we go through this material today, I want you to be thinking of that person and praying and saying, “God, would You use me to show Your grace and Your truth to Sally?” To George. To Evie, to Allie, to some specific person who you know and love who God wants to be in heaven.

Well, how can we be full of grace and truth in a world that is rapidly changing? In this series, we have been looking at what is going on in the world, where it may lead. We can’t predict the future but we see some social trends and some global trends.

And in this week, we are answering the most important question. That’s: How do we live for Christ now in a changing and shifting and shaking world?

So, I want to share with you some ways, some specific things you can cling to that will help you be full of grace and truth in a rapidly changing world. Full of grace and truth in a rapidly changing world.

And I’ll just mention these nine ways we can respond. I’ll mention that they come from a book I wrote called Hope of Nations. And the reason I mention that is that I’m going to cruise through these and if you want to go deeper, there’s a lot more in the book. You don’t need to get the book, but if you’re interested in this, you can get it.

Also in your notes, you’ll see under each of these nine things, you’ll see Bible verses. And I don’t have time to open up every one of those passages of Scripture, but each of these nine things we are going to walk through, they all come from the heart of God and the Word of God and they are specific responses to cultural challenges that we will see in our lifetimes.

The reason there are nine of these is as I looked at: how is the world changing? I wanted to know for my kids and grandkids: what are the specific challenges they will face? And then what does the Word of God say about those?
So, one of the first challenges we have learned is that we now live in a post-truth world. And that is according to Oxford Dictionaries, in 2016, they had a word of the year. And their word of the year was “post-truth” meaning, they said, that America and Europe have moved to a place where truth is no longer defined by written objective standards but truth is all about people’s feelings and opinions.

So, one person’s truth is this, another person’s truth is that. And as this affects lawmaking and lawmakers and social norms, it will continue to divide the world around us. So, how do we instruct our kids to live in a post-truth world?

Well, according to the Word of God, it’s to keep them rooted in Scripture. And that’s the first of these nine ways that if we adopt these things, it’ll keep us balanced, to be full of God’s grace, His undeserved forgiveness and full of His truth. We should be, if we are full of grace and truth, we will be the most illogically forgiving, loving, patient people in the world. And at the same time, we are unapologetically committed that we believe the Bible is God’s Word, it’s the standard for what we do and believe, and even if it’s unpopular, we don’t change our beliefs. We are full of grace and truth.

And so, remaining rooted to Scripture is the first of these really nine solutions to keep us balanced in a manner that is full of both grace and truth. So, in a world where truth is feeling-based, and more and more of our neighbors will say, “Well, I feel really strongly about this,” and we ask, “Why?” and they say, “Well, I don’t necessarily know why. I just know I feel really strongly about it,” we will able to, not in a judgmental way, but in a loving way, know that what we believe isn’t just because it’s what we feel or what a teacher or professor told us, but because it’s the heart of God.

I have told you guys the story of the house I had in California, how we had orange trees in the backyard when I lived in California. And these orange trees were awesome. They produced great fruit. And I never planted those trees, I never watered those trees, I never cared for those trees, but I just inherited the fruit that was on those trees.

I don’t know who planted them or watered them, but they were great. The kids would go out there, they would fill up their red wagon with oranges; we had more oranges than we could eat, and we would make fresh orange juice. It was awesome. And we have likened this to the society we have inherited in the United States and in nations that were predominately Christian for the last few hundred years. That we have inherited some fruits that seem normal to us, because they have always been in our backyard.

So, the way women are treated in our culture, while it’s still not perfect, to us that is normal, but what we don’t understand is in the scope of human history, women have more rights in this society than ever before.

We don’t often understand that our life expectancy is twice, two times, what human life expectancy was before a couple hundred years ago. So many of these fruits like the courts we have, the rights we have, the abolition of slavery, our ability to read, the modern universities – all these things came from people who planted seeds.

And in this series, we looked at those seeds and we saw that not as opinion, but as history the people who planted the seeds, that founded those universities were looking to this Word. Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Princeton all started as Bible seminaries to teach the Bible. And that’s not my opinion. You can look it up.

And so, what we have kind of used as a picture in this series is there is a society that is not perfect, but does have some great fruits because it once had roots that were in God’s Word.

And we have made the parallel of, first of all, a generation neglecting that and saying, “Yeah, that’s not that important.” But now, increasingly, people being trained to take out an axe and actually chop at the roots of what produced these fruits.

And so, I want to give you now a kind of second layer to that picture. And it’s a true story of a city called Singapore, Michigan. In Singapore, Michigan, this is a real town and Singapore had a number of mills, a couple banks, a number of hotels, and a whole bunch of homes. And after the great fire of Chicago in the late 1800s, there were actually three major fires around the Great Lakes region. And there was a whole bunch of lumber needed to rebuild those cities.

So, Singapore, Michigan sold off all the trees between it and Lake Michigan. If you have been to Lake Michigan, it’s almost like being to the ocean. There are these big, sandy beaches and there are big sand dunes.

And Singapore was right between the lake and the sand dunes – there were all these trees and they chopped down the trees and they sent off the lumber; they sold it to Chicago and other cities that were rebuilding.

What they didn’t understand is that those trees were acting like a barrier from the winds that come off the lake and the sand and with the trees gone, the sand started creeping into Singapore, Michigan. And here’s how one historian puts it, “Without the protective tree cover, the winds and sands coming off Lake Michigan quickly eroded the town into ruins. Within four years, it was completely buried in sand and vacated.”

So, you can go there today and it’s just a giant sand dune and you wouldn’t know it unless you knew the history, but underneath the sand dune, the old hotels, the old mills, the old banks, and the old homes. They cut the trees down; they didn’t understand the implications of cutting the trees down.

And here’s the thing. I believe that as societies that are imperfect but did once look to the standard of God’s Word, as they turn further and further away from it will see a similar effect.

And here’s the thing for us as parents, as grandparents, as a church. We can’t control what happens in our society at large, but we can control what we do with our families and with our church.

So, to use the metaphor of Singapore, Michigan, we can’t control if Harvard and Yale, who once were founded to teach the Word of God, that they cut down all the trees around them. We can’t control that. But we can control our homes, and we can say we will be a people who remain true to the Word of God, understanding that when we hold God’s truth as our standard, it actually protects us from the winds and the storms of life.

And the best way we can prepare our kids, our grandkids, the best way we can be full of grace and truth is to say we will continue to make the Word of God the standard for what we do and believe.