It's not "big news" that the church -- encompassing followers of Christ locally, nationally and globally -- survived. But it is good news.
The apostle Peter, in the Bible's New Testament, tells Christians: "… you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. … Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us" (1 Peter 2:9,11-12).
Whether your chosen candidate won or lost the presidential election, it is reasonable that you are concerned for the future of America.
Yet, for Christians, it is all the more reasonable -- imperative, actually -- to be concerned for the church, especially its witness in the culture. Ultimately, the church's fate is in God's hands, but in so many ways, we carry a great responsibility for helping empty souls to see, to yearn for and to embrace a vibrant faith.
Note a few phrases from the 1 Peter passage about following Jesus Christ:
-- Christians have been called "out of darkness into His wonderful light."
There truly is something wonderful about faith. But before a Christian can optimally convey it to others, he or she must be convinced that it is the most winsome, most important experience known to mankind.
-- Christians are "aliens and strangers in this world."
Granted, Christians are like most folks -- we go to work, our children go to school, we have unique personalities, yet faith in Christ connects us to the supernatural God of the universe and to an eternal, joyous citizenship with Him on earth and, ultimately, in heaven.
-- Christians must be careful to "abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul."
Nothing will damage a person's soul -- as well as his or her precious relationships -- more than immorality in any of its forms. Christian faith calls us to a higher path, to optimum integrity and, yet, we have the moment-by-moment invitation from God to turn to Him for forgiveness when we fall short.
-- Christians are to live "good lives" and do "good deeds" so that others may "glorify God on the day He visits us."
This much is certain in regard to what Peter may have meant by "the day he visits us": Every person, in various ways and at various times, will encounter God. How Christians reflect their faith will play a part in helping or hindering non-believers as they face divine moments with life-enriching potential.
So, my fellow American Christians, let us be the church in any political circumstance. Meditate on this passage. Perhaps memorize it over the next few weeks or months. Trust God to help you guard your soul and to join in advancing the glorious faith that the church is called to experience and to offer a divided nation and a tumultuous world.
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press and author of the ebook "When I Meditate" (eBookIt.com, http://bit.ly/PjrCgz). For the essence of embracing a heart-transforming faith, go to www.whativaluemost.com and enter Art Toalston's name to find out more. For an additional description of new birth, also go to an earlier column by Toalston at bpnews.asp?id=34079.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net
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