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6th March 2024

We live at a time in a world of layered crises.  

It is not the best of times but the worst of times.  

There are wars, hyperinflation, racial and ethnic hatred, social unrest, and radical religion.   

In the streets and on campuses: anarchy and nihilism, rooted in moral relativism and the oxymoronic “absolute” belief – truth is subjective – meaning it’s not absolute. Wait, what?    

Schools are given more to teaching propaganda than reading, writing, and arithmetic.   

Legal systems no longer prosecute criminal behavior.   

We see governments paralyzed by identity politics and ideology.     

There is a profligate “tomorrow-will-never-come” national debt.    

Cities collapsing under crime, drugs, and people living on the streets.   

A nation in spiritual crisis.  

In the face of this, it’s easy to fall into the human tendency to think the present, our moment, has got to be the worst of any time – ever. It’s our own confirmation bias.    

Surely no time in history has been as confusing, chaotic, or catastrophic as ours? 

You might be forgiven for thinking, “What’s the use? Things are a hopeless mess.”

Living in a Hopeless Mess

Perhaps most of us have felt like this at some point.   

Even Christian believers sometimes fall prey to disillusionment. I’ve seen it.  

Maybe we didn’t fall into anxiety, depression, or suicidal expression. But some have done exactly this. We see this in an American society plagued by mental health issues, an opioid crisis, domestic violence, and addictions du jour.  

Maybe we didn’t get that far, but as frail human beings, sometime in the dark night of our soul, we’ve felt discouragement, or even despair.

Looking for Solutions, Answers, Hope

Our culture, and too often the Church, maybe some of us, look for answers or solutions or hope in something other than Scripture:   

 

But, sadly, none of this works.  

None of this provides solace, healing, or hope, not only because these approaches deny the source of our problems but because they look to others with the same problems for the solution.

Is Today the Worst of Times?

But let’s take a step back. Is this time we’re experiencing today, with all its violence, pain, and suffering, really the worst time ever in human history?  

In a word, No. Think about it. What was it like to live in France, Belgium, or Germany during WWII, especially if you were Jewish?  

What was it like to experience life in Russia under Stalin or China under Mao? Or to have lived during the Dark Ages? Or ancient Rome under Nero?  

This is but a smattering; examples of “worse times” are legion.  

The ministry with which I serve, SAT-7, broadcasts daily throughout the Middle East and North Africa via satellite television and posts videos and other Christian content online in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish.    

SAT-7 speaks directly to millions of people struggling with more crises than we are experiencing in the West, for it seems the worst of times is perpetual in the Middle East and North Africa. 

“What Kind of People Ought You to Be?”

So, today, yes, we live in difficult times. But whether best times or worst times, wherein lies solace, healing, and hope?   

The late Christian philosopher Francis A. Schaeffer, who borrowed from Ezekiel 33:10, asked the question this way:  How should we then live? 

For the answer, we look to the Word of God, for Scripture is quite straightforward regarding how we should live.   

In 2 Pet. 3:11, the Apostle Peter rephrased Ezekiel’s question as “What kind of people ought you to be? 

Then, Peter answered his rhetorical question:

You ought to live holy and godly lives
as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 

1 and 2 Peter were written to the fledgling First Century Church, people in diaspora suffering religious persecution during the ancient Roman Empire.   

Writing to people afflicted by all manner of trials, falsely maligned for doing good, or martyred for their faith, Peter said, even in the worst of times such as this, the prescription is the same: live holy and godly lives. Then, he expanded on his recipe for hope.  

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you” 1 Pet. 1:3.  

“In this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials…” (1:6).  

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your faith fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1:13). 

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (3:15).  

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (5:7).  

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).  

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever, amen” (3:18).  

In the best of times and in the worst of times, we need not search for pagan prescriptions for political solutions to spiritual problems or for some new idea that will save us all and give us hope.  

SAT-7, as an ambassador of reconciliation, talks to harassed and hopeless Middle Easterners about hope in Christ and the Gospel and shares with Middle Eastern seekers and Isolated Believers how God created them, cares for them, and is there for them.  

People who have endured persecution and religious oppression testify that the only way to survive, even thrive, is to meditate on the Word of God and to fellowship with a community, maybe small, maybe secret, of believers. Focus not on circumstances but on God.  

Live a biblical worldview in the best of times.   

Live a biblical worldview in the worst of times. 

 

Rex Circle Crop Small
Dr. Rex Rogers

President, SAT-7 USA

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