As Christians in today’s America we are living in the midst of an unbelieving, perverted culture. So, what should we do? Head to the hills and hide? Wave the white flag and give in to the culture’s toxic influence? By no means! Each one of us has been created ‘for such a time as this’, and God’s word gives us our marching orders for how we can be used by Him to impact the culture for His kingdom purposes. These are days of great opportunity for those who are kingdom-minded to shine forth as bright lights in the midst of the darkness and to be used to draw others to Jesus, the Source of our Light and Life!
To live victoriously in these latter days, however, it is essential that we set our eyes, hearts, and minds upon Jesus and ‘things above’ to ensure that we are focused upon what is ‘truly real’, eternally significant, and so we will remain steadfast in our faith in a culture that opposes our Christian beliefs.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV (emphasis added)
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:1-2 ESV (emphasis added)
It is easy to get distracted by and ‘sucked into’ the things that our culture esteems unless we intentionally make it a priority to keep God the focus of our lives. Knowing about Jesus is not enough to empower us to remain steadfast in the days ahead; we must know Him and worship Him ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24), which we do by spending time in His Presence through reading His Word; communing with Him in prayer; and gathering together with other believers. It is in His Presence that there truly is ‘fullness of joy’ (Psalm 16:11)-- the kind of joy that will serve as our strength in the storms and sorrows of this life (Nehemiah 8:10). Yes, we are to be like the Sons of Issachar who understand the times in which we are living (1 Chronicles 12:32), but we also must be careful to guard and protect our hearts and minds so that the moral decline in a world that increasingly rejects God does not rob us of our joy or cause unbelief in us.
It is imperative that we daily renew our minds by reading and meditating upon God’s Word, which is the truth. His Word will give us the knowledge, understanding, guidance, and encouragement that are vital for living in these ‘latter days’. It is also essential that we set aside time every day for prayer. Prayer is our lifeline to God and what allows us to be intimately connected to Him. During our prayer time we have the opportunity to ‘pour our hearts out before the Lord’ (Psalm 62:8), to get our eyes fixed upon Him as we worship Him for Who He is, as we thank Him for all that He has done for us, and very importantly—for us to hear His voice speaking words over us that calm us because of His amazing love (Zephaniah 3:17). Another important thing we must do for victorious living in these days is to gather together with other believers (Hebrews 10:25) so that we can worship the Lord together, and teach, admonish, and encourage one another (Colossians 3:17) to ‘hold fast to our confession of faith’ (Hebrews 10-23).
In order to keep our eyes on Jesus we also may need to eliminate from our lives those things that cause us to take our gaze off of Jesus. For example, we must be willing to stop watching the nightly news if it instills debilitating fear in us; or to get rid of a hobby-- or even quit our job—if they consume our time to the point of being our ‘first love’; or discontinue a friendships that has a negative impact upon our relationship with Jesus.
When we set our eyes on ‘things above’ we will be in a better position to understand that the real enemy at work in our culture is Satan, who is always at work to ‘rob, steal, kill and destroy’ (John 10:10), and that as the ‘father of lies’ (John 8:44) he often comes ‘disguised as an angel of light’ (2nd Corinthians 11:14). We are not to be ignorant of Satan’s schemes, but to expose them. Keeping our focus on Jesus will remind us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but it is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:11), and we will realize that for victorious living we must ‘dress’ like Jesus, putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:12-17) and praying on all occasions.
Keeping our eyes on Jesus also will encourage us to know that the victory has already been won at the cross! Satan is a defeated foe, and we have everything we need for victorious living because we have the Holy Spirit living in us-- the very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead! In other words, we have ‘resurrection power’ to sustain us in these days. And just like on the first Good Friday, it may appear that Satan is winning in our culture, but we can know that things are not as they appear---they aren’t ‘falling apart, they are coming together’ according to God’s perfect will!
Keeping our focus on Jesus is also necessary if we are to remain faithful and persevere to the end. God encourages us not to grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9), and to be full of courage, knowing that God is for us, with us, and mighty to save (Joshua 1:9)! Jesus was able to endure the cross for our sake because He kept His focus upon His Heavenly Father and doing His will; He calls and commands us to do the same.
And the will of our Heavenly Father is that those who are living rebellious, perverted lives in this ‘wicked and perverse’ generation would come to know and believe in Jesus, the only One Who can save and deliver them out of the ‘pit’ they are in that leads to death and destruction. When God is our focus—our very life—His desires will become our desires; and He is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”(2nd Peter 3:9). He has called us to be ‘ambassadors of reconciliation’ (2nd Corinthians 5:20) who will proclaim His praises (1st Peter 2:9) and who will ‘go and make disciples’ (Matthew 28:19-20) by speaking His truth in love, calling unbelievers ‘to repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand’. (Matthew 3:2) Now is the not the time to throw in the towel or to head for the hills—now is the perfect time for us to share the good news of the gospel because it is more evident than ever that people are desperate for the hope that can be found in Christ alone!
Like Jonah before us, we may recoil at sharing the message of repentance with those in our world who have scorned the Lord, but if we keep our focus on Jesus, we will realize afresh that we too were once lost and have been saved only because of God’s loving kindness that He demonstrated to us ‘while we were yet sinners’ (Romans 5:8). We are to respond to the ‘sinners’ in our culture as Jesus did to those who nailed Him to the cross. He did not revile His enemies but instead He loved, prayed for, and forgave them. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us and by keeping our focus on Our Lord that we will be able to respond in the same way to our enemies, and to remain faithful to Him when we are persecuted for being aligned with Him and His will. By fixing our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, I believe we even will be able to rejoice when the world hates us, knowing that Jesus, Who is ‘Faithful and True’ and cannot lie, promised us that we are blessed and ‘great will be your reward in heaven’ when you suffer for the sake of righteousness. May you and I-- and all who come behind us-- be found faithful to the glory of His Great Name for He is worthy of ‘our all’ and ‘utmost’!
Written by Julie Van Gorp
To read the first 3 blogs in the series entitled ‘America: Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call to Christians’ go to https://www.trueviewministries.org/blog/