This World is God's World (5) November 2022
November 2022 This World is God's World
News & comment from a Christian perspective
By Peter Ratcliff
IS THE WORLD IN MELTDOWN?
Yes and no. Maybe it feels like the world is in meltdown with one political, social, environmental, financial, international and personal crisis after another. Who can stand? Who can cope?
Then again we might ask whether such a gloomy outlook is realistic. Are we looking at the world in the right way? The world has been through many a crisis and in many respects has consequently changed for the better.
Maybe the world exaggerates the malaise due to an ever more gloomy media seeking our attention. Maybe it is also in part due to the severe critical attitude of those with opposing views, whether in politics or church.
Yet even when the hype is reduced we are still in difficulty, if not in meltdown. Even the Covid crisis has divided people. After the initial heroic efforts to lockdown and save lives, people divided over attitudes toward government policy and then, through isolation, began to become distant from one another. The division has been worse than the cause of the division. People have not been able to speak to each other for fear of antagonising each other, so divisions have deepened further. Bitterness has grown. Suspicion and scepticism have hardened hearts.
What initially required trust in the government has exploded as the government was found to be dishonest. Disillusion and despair increased. This will make future crises harder to handle as cooperation will be less forthcoming. We are getting more anarchistic, the very opposite of what people feared was going to be a "great reset" to control everyone. Rather the government must now treat everyone more gently or they will lose power and be replaced by a government who promise to represent you and help you make all your dreams come true.
Thus it may be that the world is not in meltdown at all! It may be that the world is going through a period of shaking. This is a good part of God's purpose.
Nevertheless the stress of life affects people with half the nation on strong medication for one condition or another which is largely mental. Indeed the woes are largely spiritual and it is in this area that we also find the answer.
We cannot predict the road ahead as it is God who turns the hearts which turn empires. However we do know where true rest and peace lies. We do know that the Gospel must be preached. We do know that our labour in the Lord is not in vain. We do know that all will be well but that "we must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God". There will indeed be a complete meltdown one day. It may be gradual in some respects but the end will come quickly. Indeed it is our prayer that the Lord Jesus will come quickly. That will be a meltdown but much more than a meltdown: it will usher in the beginning of a new heavens and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
No doubt the fear of meltdown will require the Government to take extreme measures which some will be see as relieving the crisis, eg the subsidising of gas and electricity. Others will say it is the Government taking too much control. We might respond, let them refuse the energy subsidies! Between them there will be some kind of compromise, the only trouble being that whereas in the past both sides could be reasonably happy with compromise, this is becoming less so. There is less room for manoeuvre. Solutions are running out. There are no happy answers for a world that insists on not submitting itself to the Lord Jesus Christ.
POWER OF GOD AND MEN
In many respects Boris Johnson was brilliant. He was popular and no doubt bright. His sense of humour won those who were naturally less than Conservative voters.
If Boris Johnson hadn't been a sinner he would have been a good Prime Minister. Wouldn't we all? Even those of us who have rejected dishonesty would need great wisdom and even then it is hard to think of anyone truly able to be a great Prime Minister. Under God and especially being under God's providential protection, a humble man may have been a good Prime Minister beyond his natural ability. This is what we believe, isn't it? That God blesses and curses and turns hearts and overrules in so many ways.
On the other hand Prime Ministers who get into power through resignations rather than by winning a General Election are like people who inherit money they have not earned - they rarely appreciate it and seldom do any good with it. (We wrote this before the fall of Liz Truss.)
BEWARE OF OURSELVES
Woe to the pastor who sometimes loves preaching Christ more than he actually loves the Lord Jesus Christ.
Maybe that isn't really us but thanks be to God who forgives us if we get horribly close.
A DIVIDED WORLD
It is fascinating that an advert on Facebook to subscribe to follow Bill Gates and his plans for World peace and happiness has just about got more angry and ha-ha emojis than it has likes. It is ironic that Gates and Zuckerberg etc created a place so full of people who are against their core beliefs!
Moral of the story? Without myself taking sides in the climate debate, it shows how ideas are not fixed.
Most of all it shows the instability of the world. No doubt we are already aware of this. And therefore it shows that the world has no hope, which is something else we already know. And therefore it proves that just because the world is in such a state, it may not stay that way.
Now, without bringing in a specific eschatology (doctrine of the last days), the fact remains that God could very easily change things, just as he has already given us who are in Christ, new eyes, new ears and new hearts, filling us with joy and hope.
What about if God did that to billions more? Maybe it is his plan. What do you think?
I don't say this to excite speculation but to encourage you not to feel in a rut but rather to be both humbled and thrilled to be a Christian.
CALVINISM IS A BIG DEAL
Calvinism is not the be all and end all but it is a big deal.
The Calvinist is only proud of God. The Anti-Calvinist is fundamentally self-centred. Not that the Anti-Calvinist is necessarily purposefully self centred. And we don't refer to the ordinary non Calvinist who is humbly seeking the Lord unaware of the full doctrines of grace.
Rather the point is that Calvinism is a rich treasure of doctrine that is so beneficial to the soul that without it, the Christian will tend to be somewhat stunted and immature. A diet of milk is good for babies but the adult needs meat. The Bible applies this spiritually.
Calvinism says we have no good in us, only sin, therefore God gives us trials to sanctify us. Freewill doesn't see trials as God's hand but in vain resorts to exorcism. (Generally speaking!)
THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD
The pastor may not be loved by the world but he has the best job in the world:
In the last few days, I have enjoyed the privilege of:
Preaching in the streets, and in so doing, getting alongside the most wonderful variety of people including the most needy and humble of people.
Preaching the Gospel twice at church yesterday.
Being approached by an Orthodox Jewish man last night who wanted to have a really good conversation about God.
Visiting an elderly friend, getting very close to dying of pancreatic cancer, and his amazing wife.
Visiting a wonderful gentleman who listens to online sermons and is a brilliant example in so many ways.
Visiting a man and his wife. She suffers from a severe non verbal form of Alzheimer's and their whole situation is quite extraordinary. Meeting the new carer who was highly motivated and wanted to trust the Lord.
All this is, above all, great cause to humble ourselves under the hand of the Almighty.
Let us not believe the atheist nonsense.
The Bible is right: you are wonderfully made.
Now, let us live to the challenge: to glorify God in Jesus Christ through our short life!
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. (A wise old saying). Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. (A biblical warning)
In the flesh we'd like a sermon to end with applause but in the spirit it is well if it ends in prayer. (This applies to both the heart of the preacher and the hearer.)
Our focus must not be on the fear of our Goliaths but on faith in the God of David.
False churches and pastors may impress you and flatter you but they will lead you to hell.
"It is better to suffer than to sin". I'm sure many a preacher has said this before. Indeed, Hebrews 11:25.
A friend reports that after many years he is on much friendlier terms with his ex wife and that their daughter is delighted. I think the little girl is praying great prayers! (An argument against remarriage after divorce.)
Preaching on Lamentations 2:1 last night and the cloud that God, in his anger, puts between him and his people when they sin. It just makes you want to repent and enjoy the Son-shine.
I used to want to save the planet. Then in 1994 I discovered that Jesus had already done it!
Hearing a lovely story of a man telling his daughter that the Bible tells us that the world will be burnt up. The young girl was very sad and began crying bitterly and asked her dad, what can I do? The father answered, saying that she can do nothing but she must ask Jesus to be with her by the Holy Spirit. The girl then prayed a most sincere prayer.
Most of us can be awkward friends at the best of times nevermind on social media. There will be none of this nonsense in glory! Let's practise for that now!