Wayne Hoag is our pastor in Truckee at Sierra Bible Church. He has a great word for us about courage in our increasingly post Christian nation. Wayne has always been a great encourager to my heart, and I appreciate his ongoing role as an encourager to the hearts of others. Let him encourage and challenge you with what he has to say here:
While pondering the many challenges that face the Church of Jesus Christ today, I have heard the Lord speak again and again to my heart, “Comfort My People.” So, for the past three Sundays, my sermons have recounted the ways that God’s people have found His comfort in perilous times, as well as the strength to stand strong for the Gospel in the face of a mocking culture. Just when I start to entertain the idea that maybe my last three sermons might have sounded a bit alarmist, I am bolstered again by the words of well-known ministering brethren who are speaking the same message in their writings and sermons.
Today, I have been reading an excerpt from the book, Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization by Os Guinness. Os Guinness is a Senior Fellow of the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics and a member of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministry’s speaking team. Allow me to share a couple of introductory paragraphs:
“How on earth, it is often asked, could German Christians have caved in so weakly to the allure and coercions of National Socialism (Nazism) in the 1930s? The answer is plain: All too easily, if you understand the temper of the times in which they lived. Just so, many Western Christians are caving in weakly before the challenges of our own times, whether through the general seductions and distortions of advanced modernity, the tempting thinking behind the sexual revolution or a failure to understand the significance of the hour and appreciate the implacable hostility of some of the forces against us, and so blunting our witness and betraying the lordship and authority of Jesus.”
“The present stage of history and the character of the advanced modern world have combined to throw down the gauntlet before the church that is as decisive as Rome’s demand that Christians offer incense to the Emperor while proclaiming ‘Caesar is Lord.’ As we shall see, the challenge to the church is subtle but unprecedented in its scale, and it must be answered with a courageous no to everything that contradicts the call of our Lord, whatever the cost and whatever the outcome. Is Jesus Lord, or are the forces of the world around us lord? The church that cannot say no to all that contradicts its Lord is a church that is well down the road to cultural defeat and captivity. But the courage to say no has to be followed by an equally clear, courageous and constructive yes to the Lord Himself, to His Gospel and to His vision of life, humanity and the future, so that Christians can be seen to live differently and to live better in the world of today. Christians of the West are living in a grand clarifying moment. The gap between Christians and the wider culture is widening. This is no time for cowards or fence-sitters.”
As I prepare my message for this coming Sunday, I am increasingly aware that one of God’s greatest sources of comfort and strength for His children in challenging times, is the church itself. Again and again throughout the scriptures, both Old Testament and New, we are called to live out our faith together. The writer of the Proverbs went so far as to say that those who separate themselves from that togetherness, “quarrel against all sound wisdom” (Proverbs 18:1b).
The community that is seen in the Trinity is the model for the church and our lives with one another. In community we are called to worship together, pray together, celebrate together, fellowship together, consider one another as more important than ourselves, and in trying times, to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25).
Together in Christ,
Being part of a church community means letting those you surround yourself with be your courage and comfort in both good and bad times -- and reciprocating the effort.