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WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JULY 26, 2021 - FAITH FACES THE FUTURE WITH BOLDNESS

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JULY 26, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are portions of Romans 8:31-37 where the Bible says,  

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?....... 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?....37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.         

faith faces the future with boldness

Throughout my travels last year, I was faced with a recurring question, “Dr. Seltz, what should we do when the future seems so unsure?” Great question. What should we do and how should we feel when something like COVID 19 threatened the lives and the livelihoods of virtually everyone on the planet? What should be done when many were faced with the realty of not being able to see loved ones, of not being able to work or pay one’s bills, or of not being able to worship and pray with other believers due to the threat of punishment of law? Or what about people today who are still facing the reality of sickness, of hunger, or even of war? What then?

Well, the first thing that believers know, no matter how extreme the chaos of this world, is the biblical truth that “God is for us!” (Romans 8:31). Why? Because of what Jesus Christ has done for us by living perfectly in our place, dying His justice-bearing death on the cross sacrificially, and then rising again so that we can have eternal life in His Name. Because of Him, no matter the circumstance, His victory is present for you TODAY. Such wonderful news means that we are not captive to our fears, no matter how real they are. We are not overcome by our sins because His forgiveness for us is real NOW. And, in Christ, we can move boldly into the unknown future with courage and confidence.

I don’t know what our future holds, but I know who holds our future in His hands. It sounds trite, but it isn’t. Sinful people are often paralyzed by fear because the unknown threatens our self-made plans to try to control our own future. The uncertainties that we face daily tempt us to fear, and our fears can even cause us to doubt that THE LOVE OF JESUS is really true for us. And those fears are real too, aren’t they?

Before his death at the age of 62, atheist Christopher Hitchens found himself in such a place. After his diagnosis of terminal cancer, Hitchens described his battle with the illness and the uncertainty of his future in an article he wrote for Vanity Fair. He wrote,[1]

I am badly oppressed by a gnawing sense of waste. I had real plans for my next decade and felt I'd worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again?. … To the dumb question "Why me?" the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?

I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient. Allow me to inform you, though, that when you sit in a room with a set of other finalists, and kindly people bring a huge transparent bag of poison to plant into your arm [his chemotherapy treatment] and you either read or don't read a book while the venom sack gradually empties into your system … . You feel swamped with passivity and impotence: dissolving in powerlessness like a sugar lump in water.

There is real fear, real uncertainty, and real helplessness. But it is precisely there, where our best efforts are reduced to powerlessness, that the Apostle Paul boldly assures us that CHRIST’S LOVE HOLDS! And Paul was no preacher of the power of naïve positive thinking. He was no “pie in the sky” religious leader. For Paul, these were not just “words.” He TRUSTED IN JESUS’ LOVE AND GRACE in all of his trying, fear-filled circumstances. He suffered beatings, imprisonments, and intimidations because he trusted in the love of Jesus Christ poured out for him (for example, see 2nd Corinthians 11:23-33). And he wants you and me to know that faith in Jesus Christ is sufficient to face the challenges of each day, no matter what the day brings.

PAUL URGES US TO COUNT ON IT, BANK ON IT, AND BEGIN TO LIVE LIFE BOLDLY NOW IN THE CONFIDENCE THAT IN JESUS, “GOD IS FOR US,” TODAY, TOMORROW AND FOREVER! SUCH FAITH FACES THE FUTURE WITH BOLDNESS because it does so in the promises, the power, and the enduring potential of Jesus Christ alone.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, give us courage amidst the uncertainties of our lives. In the face of the challenges of the day, give us the clarity that comes with trusting that Your promises are sure. In all things, draw us ever closer to You. Amen!

 

[1] See https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2010/09/hitchens-201009

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