How can Christians keep their footing when things are moving so quickly in our modern world? The endless amount of information available to anyone with a smart phone is mind-boggling. An idea or attitude is posted on Twitter, and immediately thousands of individuals worldwide may be responding to it. In the swirl of opinions that are constantly being expressed, it’s sometimes hard to identify anything that can be counted on as true. Conspiracy theories abound and spread like wildfire. Religious opportunists thrive in such an atmosphere, and it often seems that there is more falsehood than truth expressed in the media in the name of Christ. Even I sometimes find myself humming “Give Me that Old Time Religion” in nostalgia for a simpler time to be a believer.
But the truth is that there never was a simpler time. Life has always been challenging and confusing, and the faith answers that seem to work in one generation may seem quaint and irrelevant in the next. Jesus came into a turbulent world. He was born in a small, subject nation, whose population lived under heavy taxation with no political voice. The noble religion of his ancestors still brought hope and comfort to those who believed, but many of its leaders were corrupt and self-serving. When he brought a new perspective to the ancient themes of righteousness, integrity and love, he was rejected and killed for it. His followers continued and built upon his ministry, founding the church. Long before the first church building was constructed, people were arguing, fighting and even killing each other over the nuances of his teachings and the meaning of his life, death and resurrection. It’s been like that ever since.
And yet, there are some very consistent qualities and characteristics shared by true Christians of every time and place. In the myriad of cultures and circumstances, these principles for living have proven to be effective and have brought peace and fulfillment to individuals and communities of believers. As the Co-Pastors of ABC, Connie and I will try to share what we see as the timeless core values by which Christians live and how we may be able to better understand and appreciate them as we prepare for life in the middle of the twenty-first century. In some cases, a truth from the past may have the same meaning and significance today. But in others, we will suggest ways in which we can more effectively manifest the faith value in new ways.
We want to look again at some traditional Christian disciplines, such as prayer, Bible reading, worship, Christian service and witness. And we also want to explore some dimensions of Christian living that are more subtle, such as an inquiring mind, adaptability or resiliency, constant growth and emergence, readiness to face new challenges. As we share in our sermons what the Bible says about each subject and suggest how we should express this in our 2014 Christian lives, we would like to have your feedback through the various media that are available to us, including the ABC website and Facebook page.
We’ll tell you more about the series this Sunday morning. Please plan to attend the 11 am worship service so you can be in on the start of our new “Dynamic Christian Living in 2014” project.
— Pastor George Van Alstine