Devotional for Saturday and Sunday January 23-24

Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Resilience”
Our Bible verse for today: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “We will need to be strong and resilient.”
Yesterday I told you about a joint research project involving the American Bible Society and the Harvard University Human Flourishing Program which proved that Christians who read their Bibles regularly and who are active in church are happier, healthier, and they handle tough times better than those who don’t do those things. Today I want to explain why that is going to be increasingly important in the months and years to come.
I’m currently reading a book called “Politics after Christendom: Political Theology in a Fractured World.” It was written by Dr. David VanDruenen, Professor of Theology and Christian Ethics at Westminster Seminary in California. The premise of the book is that Christianity and Christian influence in the USA is suffering a similar fate as it did in Europe over the last three hundred years, only at a much faster pace. At one time Christianity was the dominant social, cultural, and political influence in Europe, but not anymore. Today Christians in Europe live in largely secular societies that are either indifferent to Christian thought and values, or even in strong opposition to them. The same thing has been happening in the USA over the last fifty years, but again, at a much faster pace than in Europe.
In his book Dr. VanDruenen has both good and bad news for us. The bad news is that the favorable political and societal conditions that once existed in Europe and the USA for Christians were unique and not the norm as depicted in the New Testament. Therefore, we should not expect such conditions to continue indefinitely. Dr. VanDruenen writes, “Therefore it is no surprise that the New Testament steers Christians away from staking very much upon government institutions. Christians may avail themselves of civil justice, pray for their civil authorities, and even exercise political office, but they should always keep the affairs of state in proper perspective. No affection Christians may feel toward their political communities can compare to their allegiance toward Christ’s heavenly kingdom.”
But there’s good news too: “Christians do not need a new and special kind of political theology for life after Christendom. Rather, Scripture itself provides a political-theological vision perfectly suited for a post-Christendom world. The New Testament envisions Christians living in a world such as this and prepares them for it. Scripture equips Christians to understand and function within societies that will remain foreign and often hostile to them.”
He goes on to say that living well within such a world requires us to be actively engaged in the life of healthy church communities, and to remain aware of and resistant to the false, misleading, and deceitful influences of the society in which we find ourselves.
This is why it’s increasingly important for Christians to be faithfully involved in a strong church. I’m not suggesting that we should give-up on our country. Not at all. But I am saying we mustn’t be naïve about it either. We live in a fallen world, and it’s going to keep getting worse until Jesus returns. That being the case, as Christians, we need to stick together in order to be strong and resilient. As was noted in yesterday’s devotional, Christians who read their Bibles regularly and who are active in a good church tend to thrive regardless of the difficulties they face. 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
Copyright © 2021 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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