Wednesday, September 16, 2015

With You Always

    We live in a broken world. I was reading tonight an article about the possibility of an amnesty offer to the Boko Haram kidnappers in return for freeing their 276 hostages. As I read article after article, story after story of the horrors  and atrocities that are being done in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, my heart broke for a continent that I have come to love.

    In case you hadn't realized yet, our world is broken. We live in a world full of heartache, tragedy, and destruction. As we look around at the earth we live in, you see the stories of children forced to fight in wars they shouldn't even have to see, much less participate in. When you study the world's affairs today, there is no denying the brokenness.

    However, I'm not just sad. I'm also angry. Let me show you why. Across from the article I was reading about the horrific tragedy of the forced marriage of 276 girls and their forced conversion to Islam is an article entitled, I quote, "Exclusive: Kate Gosselin dumped by millionaire boyfriend".

    When I saw that little tag, I was nearly in shock. Now I realize that news is news, and that news networks simply publish the news that people are interested in. And they didn't characterize one article as more important than the other, so I certainly don't blame them. But why, tell me why, Kate Gosselin's relationships should be any interest to me at all after just reading of the forced marriage of 276 teenage girls. Why am I expected to care?

    Because you and I live in a world that would prefer to pretend the real world, with real blood, and real tragedy, doesn't exist. In our world of American idealism, most of us prefer to pretend that we live in a world just like America, a world of air-conditioning, easily accessible food, and pure, clean water. But the world's not like that.

    And believe it or not, the world is full of dying people on their way to an eternity apart from God, bearing His wrath forever. And sadly, actually caring about that fact enough to try to change it has become abnormal in our society. Rather, the norm is to simply accept the tragedy as a part of life and move on with our comfortable existences, oblivious to the suffering and needs around us.

    But there's a smaller group of us, those of us with no such plans. There is a group of people who wish to make a change, who wish to share the gospel here and abroad, and to do what is possible to alleviate the sufferings going on in the world around us. So for us, there is a whole world of suffering that we intend to make ourselves face that the rest of the world has the luxury of ignoring.

    How do we, as Christians, maintain joy and peace while honestly facing up to the truth of the tragedy in the world around us? The answer, strange as it may be, is found in the same chapter that compels us to remain unsatisfied with the luxury offered us in our culture of convenience.

    Matt. 28 is the battle plan for the Christian. In the final three verses, Jesus outlines His plan for the evangelism of the world and the methodology He intends for us to use in doing so. Very simply, this is what we refer to as the Great Commission, the ultimate task remaining before every believer. These three verses outline the global purpose and intention of Jesus Christ.

    "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'"

    In these verses, Jesus outlines the very command that makes many of us believe that a comfortable life enjoying luxury is outside God's plan for our lives. This command, these three simple verses, outline a world agenda of epic proportions for which hundreds and thousands of men and women have lost their lives in fulfilling.

    Submitting to and following these verses will cost everything. It may cost reputation, possessions, peace of mind, family relationships, or even life itself, depending on how God calls you individually. These verses are not simply a recommendation to reflect upon; they are, as David Platt would say, a summons to lose your life, whether that be figuratively or literally.

    And Jesus is not ignorant to the massive meaning behind what appear to be simple words. He knew, and knows, even better than we the vast consequences of living a life in obedience to this commission. And so, with this in mind, He both begins and closes this daunting command with some of the most comforting in the Bible.

    He starts off with a statement regarding His all-consuming authority. All authority, in heaven and on earth, is His. No matter what world situation we may see, encounter, or grieve at, the sovereign hand of God has already seen it and ordained it for His purpose. Nothing that occurs is outside His hand or beyond His ability. Instead, everything we see around us, no matter how cruel and unrelenting it may seem to our human eyes, is happening according to His direct and sovereign plan.

    Secondly, He closes off with the most incredible promise of the Bible. He began with a statement of His omnipotence, and He closes with a statement of His omnipresence. Not only is He sovereign in all things, but He is present with His children in all places. No where you go can take you outside the presence of God. Not the darkest night on earth or the deepest pit of hell can remove you from the Shekinah glory of God.

    In a world of hurt, trouble, and brokenness, we serve a God with all authority who will never leave, desert, or forsake us. Instead, He loves us with an unshakable, unalterable love that will not, cannot let us go. And as we go out into the world to be slaves, soldiers, and ambassadors for Him, we can live and fight with a reckless confidence in the goodness, the sovereignty, and the presence of a loving God. He is with us always; in the night, in Africa, in high school, in the office, and as Ps. 139 assures us, even in hell. Escaping His presence is an impossibility, even if you wanted to.

    Let's live with the realization of the truths that Jesus wants us to understand about Him. True, we live in a broken world. But we, as broken people in a broken world, are created as children of the most high God to show Him, to proclaim His glory throughout the world. And He promises us His authority, His presence, and His peace.


  1. Wow! Great post, Taylor! Very powerful and convicting!

  2. *Realizes I never commented on this when I meant to. Oops*

    I can't believe I forgot to tell you how awesome this post was. Yes, yes, and yes!

    1. Ha, ha, thanks, Lauren. I appreciate your faithful reading and commenting!