Quite a year, we’re having. Pandemic, recession, police brutality, civil unrest, and a presidential election that is likely to be the most contentious, in both the campaign and outcome, as any election in the last century.
In the midst of great uncertainty, churches should remember that our job is to preach the Gospel, and tell people that, more than anything, Jesus matters.
Paul resolved to preach Christ regardless of the demands of his audience (1 Cor. 1:22-25) and exhorted his protégé Timothy to preach the Word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2).
God’s job description for the church is laid out in 2 Timothy 3:15: We are a pillar and foundation of the truth. If someone comes to a church, or watches a sermon online, or sees a pastor on television and does not hear Christ proclaimed, then we have failed to do our job.
The Great Commission remains our marching orders; to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:19). These orders are based on the absolute and total authority of Jesus over everyone and everything (Matthew 28:18)
The greatest need of our culture, and any culture, is to recognize and joyfully submit to Jesus. Such recognition and submission brings personal transformation, and personal transformation en masse alters the trajectory of a nation. In the contemporary Broadway musical Hadestown, the only thing that will turn winter into spring is a song sung by the poet Orpheus. In reality, only Christ can turn death to life, hate to love, and despair to hope.
Neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump have the answers that our culture needs most. The church alone, holding forth the Word of Life, can accurately diagnose the problem (personal sin) and prescribe the cure (repentance and faith in Christ). Jesus tells us that He is the truth (John 14:6) and He alone can set us free (John 8:32).
If churches become distracted in the moment, then we will have wasted the moment. Now more than ever, our message must be contrarian. Jesus matters, and the reality of his death and resurrection give meaning to life and hope for justice. Apart from him, there is no hope, no unity, no peace, and no justice.
Paul says in Acts 17:28 in Christ we “live and move and have our being.” Jesus matters because apart from him it is meaningless to talk about things like equality, justice, hope, and peace. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:15).
John Newton famously said at the end of his life that he was sure of two things, “I am a great sinner but Christ is a great Savior.” Christians must be loud and clear about these two truths and communicate them faithfully in local churches and in the public square.
Now is not the time for chasing windmills and indulging conspiracies either on the right or the left.
America in 2020 is a Kafkaesque moment. The absurdity of such moments is illustrated by a story told by Albert Camus in which a man is fishing in a bathtub. A man comes along and asks “are they biting?” to which the man fishing replies “of course not you fool, this is a bathtub.”
Our culture is fishing in an empty bathtub. Racism, secularism, naturalism, progressivism, and socialism are empty bathtubs in a world of empty bathtubs that will never produce peace, freedom, equality, or justice. They will only kill, steal, and destroy.
Jesus matters, and the church must be single-mindedly focused on preaching Christ and calling people to repentance and faith.
Adam Groza (Ph.D.) is a Vice President and Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Gateway Seminary. His new book is Faith Wins: Overcoming a Crisis of Belief (New Hope Publishers, 2020).