Upcoming series for January 2017 (weekdays): Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor) will present a series of blogs, dealing with various issues raised in the recent election that showed a deep divide, impacting both society at large and the church (especially many AMI churches that minister to university students and young professionals in the city). The thoughts presented are processed through the standpoint of the Radical-Middle (both/and), personal narratives, and pastoral concerns. I welcome your “rational” feedback.
Devotional Thought for Today
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
As we come to the last day of 2016, we look back to a year of which people’s opinions are very much divided. With the passing of many prominent figures who have shaped and challenged our culture, an election that pulled back the mask of a divided country, a refugee crisis that seems to have no end in sight, let alone all the personal battles, the list goes on of the various challenges that we have faced throughout this year. And one of the most interesting things that have developed throughout this year is how the church has responded (or has not responded) to a world that is spiraling out of control.
“In the last time,” writes Jude, speaking as if he is writing to us today, he says that this is to be expected. And he goes on to clearly distinguish between those who are of Christ and those who are not, in the midst of difficult circumstances.
• ungodly passions
• devoid of the Spirit
• holy faith
• pray in the Spirit
• in the love of God
• looking forward to Christ’s return
The concern is that the church is losing its distinction from the world: just looking at how divided the response of the church to the various events of this year shows how our perspective is more like the world than it should be. The truth is that those in Christ are called to be people who are not just dissimilar to the world, but categorically different in their thinking, their actions, and their demeanor. Jude reminds the church that because of Christ, we are set apart from the world.
The call that follows to those who are beloved, who are building up their holy faith, who are praying in the Spirit and are in the love of God, and who are looking forward to Christ’s return—is to show mercy. This mercy is radically different from the kind of mercy this world shows. It is a mercy displayed to all, even those opposed to church. It is mercy that condemns sin but shows mercy to the sinner. It is a kind of mercy that is not of this world.
As you end this year and look forward to a new year, may you be reminded of the call of Christ for us to “shine like stars in the world,” “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Phil. 2:14-16). May you not shy away from distinguishing yourself from others, not for the sake of standing out, but in obedience to the Lord. Even to the last moments of this year, may you actively show mercy onto others. And in the same manner, begin this new year.
Prayer: Father, thank You for this past year. It was not the easiest of years, but through it, I saw how faithful and never-changing You truly are. Even to the last moments of this year, and as I begin a new year, I want to walk in a manner worthy of Your calling, because I know Your calling is an invitation to life and life abundant. Thank You for this gift. Thank you for Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 19