The new year is upon us, and the world is changing.
Things are happening so fast, it’s hard to keep up.
the introduction of augmented reality (AR) and the meta-verse promises to transform society as much if not more than the mobile phone.
Artificial Intelligence is on the cusp of outpacing human intelligence in its development.
- Communication is changing.
Uploading and downloading speeds are constantly increasing.
Skynet is not longer sci-fi fantasy. SpaceX is expected to complete Starlink within a few years.
Facetime and Zoom allow for instant, face-to-face interactions in real time across thousands of miles.
Latest and greatest news notifications appear on our mobile devices as they happen.
Air travel is constantly expanding and improving.
Civilian space travel has happened for the first time and is expected to increase.
Global inflation is exploding on an unprecedented scale. The “Great Reset” is no longer and idea of conspiracy, but openly talked about.
Crypto currencies and NFTs threaten to overtake traditional monetary systems and even eclipse the gold standard.
- Religion seems to be undergoing its own overhaul with new ideas of “deconstruction”
Well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning individuals seek to maintain spiritual relevance in a world that grows further and further from traditional values.
Old or archaic beliefs are being replaced with more acceptable and less exclusionary ones.
Of course this was foretold long ago…
Daniel 12 tells us that in the end times, “Many will run to and fro, and knowledge will increase.”
“The Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their consciences seared with a hot iron,…” (1Tim 4:1,2)
How are we to represent Jesus well in a rapidly changing world?
How much, if any, of our message is open to adaptation?
How do we tailor our gospel presentation to a generation that rejects notions of absolute truth and instead subscribes to moral relativism?
How do we avoid sounding archaic when everyone wants something new?
Can we stay relevant while preserving essential truths?
These are real and tough questions that must be considered if we want to influence our world with the message of Christ.
The fact is, the gospel does not change.
Society may fancy themselves as progressive simply because they seek new ideas, but in realty, nothing has changed.
Acts 17 says of the people of Athens, “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing,”
Sounds kind of comical at first. What were they? Some group of gossips sharing old wive’s tales? No. They were just like us. Eager to hear or be the first to tell the latest and greatest news.
The only thing that has changed is our ability to access information faster.
So how did Paul engage with these inquisitive, progressive thinkers?
Well, the first thing we see as he enters the city is his grief over the amount of idols. But he didn’t spend time arguing about or tearing down their objects of worship.
Instead, he preached to them “Jesus and the resurrection.” (Vs18)
So effectual was his preaching, that they actually set up a time for him to preach to all of the influential people of the city.
Vs 19, “And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”
When Paul addressed hem, he did not water down the essential truths of the faith. He didn’t exclude unpopular or challenging aspects from his message. He shot it very straight to them. He did not refrain from mentioning God’s command to repent or the threat of judgment to come. He didn’t avoid difficult concepts like the resurrection from the dead, but instead boldly proclaimed the message of the gospel and the importance of conversion.
Paul did not hesitate to preach the simple gospel to a crowd of intellectual, progressive critics. You and I should not hesitate to present the simple gospel in our generation as well.
In fact, in 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 he tells us, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
We don’t have to water down, change, or add-to our message just because we are faced with a generation that finds it difficult to accept.
It’s not the “bad news”, or the “irrelevant news” or even the “outdated news.”
The good news may sound like old news to some, but not to those who have never heard!
We don’t need to make the gospel relevant. It already is!
The gospel is the power of God to salvation no matter what context it gets presented.
In a world where foundations of absolute truth are being eroded from every fabric of society, people are hungry for something steadfast and sure.
They’re being told to believe something entirely different than what they see with their own eyes. Whether that’s gender confusion, insane measures regarding covid, politics, global warming, or pretty much any other hot topic of the day, people are being asked to believe the talking points of the agenda rather than the truth staring them in the face.
We have seen a generation that has very little exposure to the gospel and the values most of us grew up with. But we have also seen a generation right now that is starving for truth.
Billy Graham once said, “When you preach, preach with conviction, preach with authority, and give people an opportunity to respond.”
When the gospel is presented this way, people respond. People are hungry for what we have in Jesus. In some ways it may seem harder to preach the gospel, but its actually much easier. Especially among those under 30.
This is why we believe it is as important as ever to raise up an army of laborers and send them out into the harvest fields.
The fields have been ready for harvest for thousands of years. The harvest fields of Jesus day were ripe and ready for the truth, and the harvest fields of your day and ours are ripe and ready.
We need more laborers! People who will stop goofing around with theory and strategy, and simply GO! into the harvest.
Together, we are working to fulfill the Great Commission.
People are the same as they’ve always been; sheep without a shepherd, until Jesus Christ becomes Lord of their lives.
We will continue to present the simplicity of this life-changing message no matter how much culture changes around us.
Our School of Missions and Evangelism in Honolulu kicked off on Wednesday, Jan 12th. Students are here and fully immersed in the lecture and outreach times.
Please be praying that they all discover their purpose and pursue God’s will for their individual lives in the great scheme of fulfilling the Great Commission.
I saw this challenging concept the other day from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. They wrote, “Jesus has given us marching orders.”
As I chewed on that for a moment, I thought, “When headquarters has already given us a command, we don’t need to pray for further instruction.”
Too often, Christians miss out on opportunities to share because they are waiting for further revelation for every step of every day. I don’t really need to ask, “Lord, should I witness to this person?” if I already have the command to do it!
A better rule of thumb would be to assume the Lord wants us to witness to everyone unless he guides us not to!
May you be encouraged and challenged to make the most of every opportunity to share the simple gospel of salvation in Christ.