Grace, mercy and peace be yours from God our Father and the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
One of the topics at the District Convention a couple of weeks ago was the idea that American culture is growing more hostile to Christianity. I don’t think anyone can dispute that, no one did at the convention. So, where do we look for hope?
Thanks be to God that He encourages us in His Word. James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”
Testing strengthens our commitment to Christ. There is no other place or person to turn to in the day of trouble. Jesus alone is our confidence, we lack for nothing. St. Paul puts it this way, “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
No matter my individual struggles, I know that the Holy Spirit has poured God’s love into my heart. The same is true for us collectively at St. John’s, we know the Holy Spirit has poured God’s love into our hearts. How can any individual or congregation not be encouraged by God’s love? It is enough for us; it has to be.
Sadly, I don’t think we can count on hostility toward us ceasing. The problem is we are not in league with the world. Jesus says as much, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).
Take heart though, our hope does not rest in the world hating us less; our hope rests in Jesus loving us more, if that were possible. Praise be to God. Amen.
Blessings in Christ’s Name,