A friend recently sent me a photo of a sign appearing in a bookshop window. In case it doesn’t show up too well on whatever screen you use to read this, the sign states:
‘The post-apocalyptical fiction section has been moved to current affairs.’
I guess this could be taken either as a dystopian comment on the state of things today, or a funny observation, or perhaps even a prophetic word!
However it strikes you, we might be forgiven for thinking that the growing instability being reported on in the media every day really does seem to point to societal and community breakdown on a grand scale. Politics, business, the NHS, education, transport infrastructure – these and other areas are all experiencing significant change as that which once appeared so unshakeable and stable faces challenges of seismic proportions. Nor is the church exempt from such pressures – and dire warnings of the end times are of little comfort!
But before we get too caught up in the ‘spirit of the age’ and are overcome by a sense of hopelessness, we do well to remember that we are called to be counter-cultural. One key way of ensuring this is to think carefully about where we put our trust on a daily basis. Psalm 20 v 7 reminds us that ‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God’. (NIV). Human institutions come and go – even those which are strong and apparently secure – but God remains faithful and enduring.
Of course surrounded as we are by the media, (or even humorous signs in bookshops!) and, at the same time, acutely aware of the seeming weakness of the church, the sense of being overwhelmed can be hard to shake off. By way of encouragement, only today I came across these words of Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission:
‘God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.’
The most challenging part of this statement for me is the middle part, but I can’t argue with the logic! Whatever challenges we may be facing, either personally or in our churches, God’s way can still be found. Following it may be counter-intuitive, or it may appear to fly in the face of conventional ‘wisdom’, but surely this is what it means to be disciples of Christ, committed to ‘Walking the Way: Living the Life of Jesus Today.’
Rev Dr James Coleman