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How to Live for Christ Now, Part 2

From the series Hope of Nations

Every coach follows one key principle when things get confusing: get back to the basics. In this program, our guest teacher John Dickerson wraps up his series “Hope of Nations” by providing 9 specific ways believers can live for Christ in the midst of this chaotic world. Don’t miss why Christians really need to live like Christians.

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Message Transcript

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.

Well, there’s a second way for us to balance grace and truth in a divided and shaking world and that’s to train our young. That we will be intentional about training our young people. In other words, we’re not going to bury our heads in the sand, we are going to be aware of what is going on. And we are going to raise our kids knowing that they will go out into universities and workplaces and into a world where Christianity will increasingly be mocked and laughed at and scorned.

A world where sometimes people, if they hear that you’re a Christian, they assume you are bigoted and backwards and prejudiced just because they have prejudged that, ironically, okay?

But that’s the world that they will inherit, whether or not we would like to think about it. And so, how do we respond? Well, we can raise them to know God’s truth and to hold God’s truth in a gracious and graceful way so that they are prepared to thrive for Christ in such a world.

And so, what is the best thing we can do for our kids and grandkids knowing the world they are going to live in is going to be divided and shaking? We don’t like to think about it. I get that. But it is. So, how do we prepare them for that? Well, the best thing we can do for them is make sure they have a relationship with Christ so that the Holy Spirit who is a comforter and a counselor lives inside them and is with them in every crisis and situation they will go through. And the best thing we can do is train them to now that this Book comes from the heart of God and it leads to freedom, it leads to genuine equality and human dignity and prosperity. And that if we train them in that, then even when we are not there to hold them, they’ll have the Comforter of God inside them and they’ll have the Word of God to guide them through decisions that we might not be around to walk them through.

There’s a third way for us to live full of grace and truth as a church and as families and it’s to be known for doing good. To be known for doing good. There’s a book of the Bible that is written to a group of Christians who were a hated minority in their culture.

Now, if you have been out on the coastal cities or if you’re in university right now or if you have worked in the mainstream media where I have worked, this may sound familiar to you.

They lived in a hypersexual, pagan society where Christians were a despised minority. And this is the book of 1 Peter. It was written to Christians who live in that context. And as the world around us changes and there are times where we realize, Whoa, this is what it feels like to be prejudged or hated, God has already instructed us how to respond. And there’s a lot of depth and nuance to this, so I’m going to try to oversimplify here.

But here’s a key verse in 1 Peter 2. It says, “Live such good lives among the pagans,” that’s a good Bible word. That just means the non-Christians. “Live such good lives among the people who don’t believe in Jesus that even though they accuse you of doing wrong,” so if you’re doing your best to serve Jesus and out of the blue someone falsely accuses you of something, it’s going to hurt, but it doesn’t necessarily need to surprise you. That will happen in life sometimes.

“And even though they accuse you of doing wrong, live such a good life with your actions that they will see your good deeds,” that’s actions again, and in the future when God returns and He reveals how everything actually was, they will glorify God and say, “Wow, that Jesus follower kept being good to me even when I was being a total jerk to them.”
And so, God says, “Here’s how you respond when you are hated or when you are mistreated in culture for your Christian beliefs is you respond by doing good.” You get a cup of coffee for that person. You do a physical act of service for that person who is not treating you the right way.

The Word of God, if we’ll look to it shows us: here’s how you live full of grace and full of truth. It doesn’t come naturally to us, but the Holy Spirit is in us to empower us to actually live this way.

There’s a fourth way that we balance grace and truth and that is that we dignify all people as image-bearers of God. All people. No matter what labels they put on themselves, no matter if they consider us their enemy. Yes, all are broken by sin, but all are made in the image of God, and so have eternal worth and value to God. This is a uniquely Christian value.

Most major societies in world history had a set of truth, an ideology that they said, “If you disagree with us, you either go to prison or you get killed.” What is unique about Christianity when it’s biblical Christianity is how we treat the people who disagree with us.

And one of the things as our society continues to divide is we are seeing a complete loss of dignity toward people who disagree. Because whether or not we realize it, that was a uniquely Christian value that you could disagree and be dignified about it.

And we will see our neighbors increasingly treat each other in non-dignified ways. And sometimes, people will behave in non-dignified ways, but we will continue to dignify them, not because of how we feel, not because they deserve it necessarily, but because our Book says they are made in the image of God, and so, we will dignify them.

They are endowed by their Creator with the rights that they have, not because of how we feel, but because of their Creator.

I was reading this last week, a concentration camp survivor, his name is Viktor Frankl. One of my favorite quotes from him, he said this, “The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” What I love about that quote is it really summarizes this reality that we can’t control what our neighbors will do, we can’t control what North Korea does, we can’t control the global economy or American social divides. We can’t control that stuff.

But we can control our response when those things bump into us and touch us. And so, what our responsibility is as followers of Christ is to always be asking, God, how can I be full of Your grace and full of Your truth in this situation?

And here’s the thing. If we get serious about being ambassadors of grace and truth, we will have times when we struggle and say, God, in this situation, how do I be full of grace and truth?

And if you find yourself struggling with that, you get an A+, okay? Because that means you’re actually making an effort and you’re getting it, that we’re here on a mission. And that’s the next of these nine things that help us stay balanced in grace and truth is that we behave as ambassadors, we behave as ambassadors.

As I mentioned, there are Scriptures under each of these points. The passage under this says that when sin separated humanity from God – God is here, humanity is here, sin is in the middle – Christ came to bridge the gap. And it says the followers of Christ, we are now God’s reconcilers. He has entrusted to us, the Church, the message of reconciliation that all can be saved through faith in Christ if they will repent and believe.

He has entrusted that message of reconciliation to us and so, we are therefore God’s ambassadors. An ambassador is a diplomat who goes to a foreign culture and so, we balance grace and truth knowing, Okay, some of my neighbors who don’t believe in Jesus or God or who were raised in the Church and have turned away from it, they may, they may have views of God and the truth and me that are very negative. And I can go to them, not in a defensive way, but as an ambassador, behaving diplomatically, to show them through my actions what the heart of God actually is, even as I explain unapologetically, “Here’s what God’s truth says, whether or not we like it, this is what God’s truth says.” We balance grace and truth as ambassadors.

And the seventh on your list of nine is that we remain calm. We remain calm. This is true when there are political divisions going around, this is true if there’s war, if there’s economic recessions, whatever happens.

Jesus taught His followers every day to pray this very simple prayer,“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” In other words, God, You’re big, You’re in control of everything, You made the atoms, the molecules, the galaxies, tyrannosaurus rexes, humpback whales, humanity, You made it all and nothing surprises You today.

And so, I orient my reality not around my Facebook feed or around news headlines or around what my co-workers are saying or my kids are doing. I orient my reality around my Creator who is unchanging and who is good. And I know, God, that You’ll provide for me today.

And so that’s why we pray, “Give us today our daily bread.” Daily bread means, God, give me what I need today. And sometimes what we need today is bread. Sometimes what we need today is peace. Sometimes what we need today is freedom from anxiety.

But as we understand the principle of orienting our reality around God, trusting Him for our daily bread, it means we don’t have to worry so much about tomorrow or five years from now because we understand that our Father is already in tomorrow providing what we will need tomorrow. And He is already in five years from now providing what we will need five years from now.

And so, we can, as followers of Christ remain calm even if the world really does shift and shake around us.

And these last two have to do with our sense of mission. This is the way that Jesus lived. If you think about Jesus’ life, He was completely gracious and forgiving and loving. Moments where He had little children sit on His lap, moments where He touched the lepers that no one else would touch. Moments where He dignified women and people of races who were outcasts in the culture He lived in and He showed that God dignifies them. He was full of grace.

And He also had moments where He stood up to people and He said, “Here’s what the truth is.” He was full of grace and He was full of truth. And while He was very gentle, He lived with an internal sense of invincibility. That He knew that the Father had called Him to earth on a mission.

And that until He had accomplished His mission, no power on earth or in hell could touch Him. And you can live the same way, because you have been called on the exact same mission, to show the heart of the same Father. You can be gentle and gracious, but you can have an internal spinal column of steel knowing that God has called you here on a mission and you don’t have to fear anything, because the only thing you fear is God and He’s on your side.

And you live knowing: I’m invincible. Until God finishes His purpose for me on earth, I’m invincible. Not because of my strength, but because of His strength to protect me and fulfill His purposes through me.

And so, you know you don’t have to live by fear anymore. And when the world changes around us, so much of the hatred and the anger we see around us is people are afraid. People are afraid of what is going to happen to them or happen in the world, and so they are lashing out in fear.

I love the verse in Hebrews. It says that all humanity lives as slaves to the fear of death. The richest people, they live as slaves to the fear of death. Everyone does. But it says when you place your faith in Christ, He sets you free from that slavery to the fear of death.

As a follower of Christ, I know that when my body dies, I’m going to wake up in God’s presence in a glorified body. And for me, the worst my eternity will ever be is right now in this world. So, it only gets better. So, we don’t sadistically look forward to death, but we are not afraid of death. And so, we go through this world on a mission knowing until I accomplish purpose for me on earth, I am invincible and I can be fearless because my Father is that strong.

So, we’re here for a purpose. God sent us to show His grace and His truth to people He wants in heaven. You guys with me about that? Awesome.

I want to tell you one closing story that illustrates to me the ability to save people by staying true to the Book and doing it even if it’s controversial.

On January 15th, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 took off out of LaGuardia airport in New York City. And as the plane was climbing with a hundred and fifty-five people on board, it ran into a flock of birds. Now, this happens often when planes are taking off, but these were really big birds. These were Canadian geese.

And these huge birds actually knocked out all the engines on the plane. The plane completely lost power and started going down; this plane was going to crash. It was bound to crash. The only way it could go was down.

And as the pilot looks around and scans around for a place to make an emergency landing, he looks to the highways and he sees that the highways are full of cars, because it’s New York City; he can’t land there.

He looks for some land and he sees that all the land is taken up with these huge buildings, because it’s New York City; he can’t land the plane there. And that’s when he sees a river. He sees the Hudson River. And he made a split-second decision that would actually be criticized by many in the aviation industry.

He decided that the only way to save the lives of the hundred and fifty-five people on board was to ditch the plane in a crash landing on the Hudson River.

And in his decision in that split-second, he saved the lives of a hundred and fifty-five people who should have died.

And the thing for me, my best friend from high school, he’s a pilot for American Airlines. And I’ve got so much respect for this guy because I know how hard my best friend works for American.

This year, my buddy, he got shifted to a different plane and he spent nine months of this year learning the book, learning the manual, training on simulators for just the one specific plane that he’ll now fly.

He has flown thousands of hours in other planes, but before he flies with any passengers on this new plane, nine months of training.

And so, this guy with all that training, all that experience completely unexpected, his world shakes and his world is going down. And in the moment, he knows exactly what to do as a man of the “book” on how to operate his airplane. And he decides he’ll ditch the plane in the Hudson River. And miraculously, all hundred and fifty-five people survived.

I love this picture of one of the survivors because it reminds us that these hundred and fifty-five people on board, it’s not just a number. Every one of them was a brother, a dad, an uncle, a mom, a grandma, a sister. Every one of them was a person like you with a job, maybe with some pets, with a life.

And every one of them was saved because of a person who, in a moment of crisis, knew exactly what to do. To me, it’s an inspiring picture when our world shakes, when it seems like our world is going down to know that we have been sent here for a purpose, and that if we’ll stay true to the Book we will be part of a great rescue, even in situations that seem like there’s no hope.

God sent us to show His grace and truth to people He wants in heaven. How will those people get to heaven? God in His providence and plan will use you and me to connect that person you thought of and the person I am thinking of to the heart of God. Our role is very simply to show them God’s grace and His truth.