God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord~ 2nd Timothy 1:7-8 NLT
There is a lot to love about life in the 21st century.
There simply are no words to express my fondness for the under appreciated and under celebrated miracles of indoor plumbing, Pinkberry frozen yogurt, antibiotics, instant coffee, electricity, central air, smartphones and pizza delivered right to my door.
Living in the 21st century has done some damage to my ongoing love affair with life in the 21st century. There are situations common to modern life so far outside of human control that they are literally the stuff of nightmares. Things like earthquakes, church shootings, terrorist attacks, forest fires, school shootings, superbugs, category five hurricanes and random acid attacks. Then, in a class all his own, we have the pudgy, punk dictator hell-bent on using nuclear missiles to prove some absurd point that I’m not even sure he understands.
Like I said, the stuff of nightmares.
For Christians times are even scarier. On top of all the weird junk everyone else has to deal with, we have the added pressure of living in a culture that no longer respects Christians or the Christian faith. Many non-Christians are openly hostile not just to the truth of the claims of the Bible but also to Christian people. Christian bakers, printers, photographers and florists have lost thriving businesses because they refused to cave to the insane and ever-expanding demands of the LGBTQ culture. Even from within the church challenges to traditional biblical views and attacks on biblical authority have become routine. Christians who hold to traditional views on marriage, gender and sexuality are openly ridiculed and regularly scolded for being close-minded, hateful and hopelessly behind the times, no matter how gently and lovingly they state their opinions.
The never-ending stream of strange and scary news often leads to a sense of powerlessness and confusion. God has called His people to better things than confusion (1st Corinthians 14:33). The better things begin with following some basic do’s and don’ts for living courageously in scary times, beginning with the do’s…
Do- Know what’s going on in the world so you can pray-
Nothing frustrates me more than a Christian who won’t watch the news or read news stories because they believe that current events are simply too terrifying to face on a daily basis. Forgive my hardheartedness but boo-stinking-hoo. Fear is a wretched excuse for ignorance. Knowledge empowers us to pray for people and circumstances that urgently need God’s supernatural involvement. It’s also critical we remember that we will never change anything we remain deliberately ignorant of.
Do-be a problem solver-
Christians are commanded to get out there and let their light shine (Matthew 5:16, Mark 4:21). Getting out there looks different for different people. For some it might be as simple as repeatedly engaging in awkward conversations about what Christians believe with an unsaved neighbor or coworker who routinely spouts really weird ideas and strange philosophies. For others it might be as complicated as opening their home to an unwed mother or adopting a kid out of foster care. No one can solve every problem but everyone can make a difference in someone’s life.
Do-rejoice that God has chosen you to live right now-
Seriously, it’s an honor. The God of the universe has selected you and me to represent Him at one of the most complicated and bizarre moments in history. That is a high, holy and freaking awesome calling no one should shy away from for any reason (Esther 4:14).
Now for the don’ts…
Don’t-live in fear-
Believers are commanded to fear nothing and no one but God (Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 27:3, Psalm 34:9). I am convinced that the key to managing fear and anxiety is prayer (Philippians 4:6). When feelings of fear for the future take over, take those feelings to God. When we take our worries to God consistently (consistency, really, is the key) He empowers us to experience hardship and difficulty with less fear.
Don’t-be a jerk-
I know it’s tempting, but the world has enough of them already. Find a nice way to say hard things and commit yourself to loving people even if they don’t deserve it.
One last do…
Do not forget that God has a plan in all of this-
God is not caught off guard by all the outrageous stuff going on in the world right now. Rather, He is using it to get the attention of distracted and disobedient people who have drifted away from Him and His truth in every sense imaginable. He’s calling Christians to show His love, speak His truth, and be His hands and feet to those people.
It’s a high, holy and freaking awesome calling.