Greetings church family,
As you know today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Today, we are called to remember the heinous terrorists attacks on the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and our transportation system. We are called to remember all the heroes that stepped up and risked their own lives to save others. There were many who ran toward the danger instead of fleeing from it. Those in the towers, those in the Pentagon, and those aboard Flight 93. We thank God for their heroism and their sacrifice.
It is in times like these, that the Word of God speaks clearly and abundantly to us! As I reflect on the events that took place 20 years ago, I am reminded of the first few verses of the 91st Psalm.
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust! For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark." -Psalm 91:1-4
In this passage we are reminded of the comfort and safety for those who abide in Christ. No matter if you were the one who ran into danger at the risk of your own life, like so many did, or if you were like me stunned watching on TV, there is only one place to find shelter.
Fear was rampant in that time here in America and yet for the one who seeks after the Lord, there is no reason for it. As with today in the middle of a "pestilence," we must remember that God is our refuge! God is our fortress! God is the one that we place all our trust in! He will deliver us from any danger or foe!
That may mean that your life will be lost like so many first responders or civilian heroes. But if you are in Christ, then He will cover over you with His "wings." He will eternally shield you like a bulwark before the evil one! He is always faithful to protect those that call on His name!
The world can throw a lot at us, but there is nothing that they do against the great and mighty sovereign Lord! Terrorists may come, your country may abandon you, but the Lord will always shelter you with His perfect hand!
Remember those who died on that day 20 years ago, remember them and thank God for the heroes. And may it be a call for you to place your trust in Him in all circumstances and situations!
Like Habakkuk standing faithfully in the Lord's strength even in the face of a mighty army of foreign invaders who are going to take them all captive, he says "Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength..." Let us stand firm in our Lord no matter the tyranny and violence that comes our way!
Remember those innocent people and those heroes by refusing to live in fear, and instead stand in the strength and might of the Lord of all creation. If you are His, you are eternally His no matter what comes! Praise God!
For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This statement is trustworthy; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and beneficial for people. -Titus 3:3-8
Every person on the earth has had something shape their thinking. Our home environment is a huge determining factor in how we perceive the world and our surroundings growing up. The city and state that we live in can have an impact upon the way that we think and process through things in life. The college we choose to go to can have massive implications upon our worldview and how we think through many of the deep questions of life. Our families and spouses can be a huge piece of what shapes our thinking. Many times, our view of politics, religion, and life in general are shaped by these and others influences in life.
For the Christian, there is one truth that should shape our thinking over and above everything else. The Word of God is that fountain that we drink truth from. But even more specifically when thinking of how we think of our lives, there is a glaring truth that needs to prevail in our thought life and how we view the world and all things. And that is the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to have a gospel shaped thought process in all of life!
Let us quickly move through our passage for today to see how the gospel of Jesus Christ must shape our thinking in this life.
Verse 3 reminds us who we were before Christ. It says that we were all once foolish. Being foolish is to deny God and His existence. We not only live this out in what we say, we also live this out in how we live. Instead of living in the knowledge of God and seeking after Him, we reject Him with our mouths and our lives. And that is what we have all done!
Verse 3 also states that without Christ we are like disobedient children who refuse to follow the laws of God our Father. We are deceived in this kind of living. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden our thinking is shaped by our selfish motives and we are deceived into thinking that being sovereign like God is what we need. As we follow after the world's systems and live in our sin, it's as if we are closing our eyes to the truth of God and hoping that when we open them God is no longer there. Before we cling to the truth of the gospel, we feel as though we are our authority and that we know what’s best for our soul. Our worldview is so foolish outside of Christ that we are actually enslaved to it. We are enslaved to our lives of foolish living deceived by the idea that we should be our authority in life.
Paul also tells us here in verse 3 that we lived lives of malice and envy before Christ transforms His people. We lived lives of hatred, hating the people around us.
This is not a pretty picture is it? Complete wrecks! Desperately needy people. Why do I say this when thinking through having a biblical worldview? Simply because we need to be constantly reminded of the gospel and have that good news shape our worldview. It is good to know that we were once miserable wrecks outside of Christ. It makes the good news all the better and it forces us to have a gospel centered perspective in life no matter what is going on around us. The gospel forces a biblical worldview for the one who always remembers who they are in light of who God is and what God has done.
What is that gospel centered perspective in life? Verse 4, the incarnation! The kindness and love of God has been manifested in the person of Jesus the Christ. The author of our salvation revealed to us His kindness and love through the incarnation of His Son. He sent Him into this world to take on flesh to be the atonement for our rebellion that we just spoke of when looking at verse 3. You see, God in His righteous justice just couldn’t ignore our rebellion, or say “well you have been better than most.” No, it had to be paid for, and that was done on the cross of Christ. What kindness! What love! What a beautiful truth to shape all our thinking day by day!
Verse 5 goes on to tell us even more good news. Christ atoned for our sin and the Holy Spirit comes and washes us in Christ’s blood and gives us a new heart, regenerating us, causing us to be born again in grace. Our deeds would only condemn, but His deeds credited to our account lead us to have a declaration of “righteous” by the Father who looks at us through the lens of the Son’s life and ministry. The Father declares to all of the universe that all of those who are found in Christ, washed and renewed by the Spirit, believing in the Lordship of Christ, are righteous saints. Righteous saints! Is this truth what shapes your thinking when looking around at the world today? What a humility generating proclamation!
Verse 7 even reminds us that we are heirs. Heirs of God!! What good news! What a gospel!
Paul ends this section of Scripture by encouraging believers to live lives that reflect our conversion. In verse 8 he says that we are to be careful to engage in good deeds because they are good and profitable for us. Of course we recognize that these are done only in light of the salvation secured for us.
If you are in Christ, meaning that you have repented of your sins and confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life, you must remember what Christ has done in your life. We must recognize that Christ has rescued us from our foolish lives of disobedient living. We must dwell on the glorious gospel of grace no matter what is going on around us.
It is easy to get caught up in focusing in on political movements, pandemic fears, all sorts of culture driven conversations, or even another gospel to relieve the tension, but these things cannot replace the centrality of the gospel in what shapes our thinking.
I am not saying that we cannot have political conversations or discuss what is going on in our culture, but what I am saying is that everything we think and say needs to be shaped by a mind that has been molded and formed by the gospel. We must speak of the hope of the gospel even as we discuss our current pandemic, we must bless with the gospel when conversing about politics, we must proclaim gospel truth when engaging with the culture’s latest whims, we must seek to crush any other gospel when presented as an answer to what we see going on in our world.
As we reflect upon the truth of who we were and what the Lord has done for us, how can any other thing that comes along shape how we think, what we speak, and who we are? We truly need a gospel shaped worldview.
This is what C.S. Lewis says when reflecting on the need for a gospel, Christian-centered worldview. “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
I hope and pray that we all have a gospel-centered worldview so that we will never be taken captive by all the opposing worldviews that are constantly vying for our attention and affection. May the good news of what Christ has done for you always shape, direct, and guide your mind and heart in this life no matter what is going on around you!