Reflecting on the last 12 months I have been reminded of the conundrum of our human condition. It seems as if everything has changed in our world but, at the core, has it really changed? It is easy to think, looking at the surface level, that we have made great progress in areas but, have we really? And as we think deeper we realize that we probably have not moved the proverbial “ball” any closer to the goal line. The Bible reminds us that we need to change our goals to truly realize the life that each of us desires.
My thoughts this week, reflecting on the past, have brought to mind one truth from God’s Word about real change. The Apostle Paul was writing to a civilized culture that took pride in its learning, technology, arts, government and culture but had missed the real key to success in life. The Apostle wrote to those in Corinth, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” (1 Corinthians 3:18)
Let me encourage you to pause to reread that verse and to ponder the powerful truth revealed in these words from our Creator. I personally suffer from the same condition as others- that of pursing things that in my mind will produce better life outcomes while rationalizing away what the Bible teaches. It is no secret that the Bible has been thrown away as an irrelevant resource for living. Yet, this is exactly what happened in Corinth. The culture became consumed with the latest and next great solution to come. It was as if in the stampede for something new, that which was of value was trampled. We read of the culture of Athens, a neighboring city to Corinth, “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.”( Acts 17:21) The challenge was that the “something new” was simply a distraction from what is true!
This Sunday, weather permitting, I will be bringing my challenge for the New Year of 2022. My challenge for 2022 is to be Jesus Strong. All the “new” hopes and culture will only lead to disappointment. They really are a distraction from finding the true meaning of life and living it out. The Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians that all of these things that they have placed their hope and confidence in have let them down. This has definitely been true for our world over the last year.
The follower of Jesus is not lost, however, because of our relationship with God through Christ and His Word! We have instructions for living which reveal the keys to living an unlocked life of freedom in Christ. Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus end with, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10) The Bible reminds us that real change is only found by actively living out our faith. This concluding section then uses the illustration of a Roman Soldier, arguably the best soldier of that time. The illustration identifies those areas of the believer’s life that are essential for living out a strong faith in uncertain times.
As we move into the New Year, which is culturally a time to reset, I encourage you to reflect on the last 12 months but also to ponder what the Lord would have you do in the next 12 months of 2022. I would encourage you to join me in the journey of being Jesus Strong!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson