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3 lessons from TIME’s Person of the Year

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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They risked and persisted, sacrificed and saved. Editor Nancy Gibbs explains why the Ebola Fighters are TIME's choice for Person of the Year 2014 (Credit: TIME Magazine)

TIME has named “the Ebola fighters” its Person of the Year.  The magazine explained: “The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight.  For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving, the Ebola fighters are TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year.”

Meanwhile, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager and education advocate who survived an assassination attempt, received her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo yesterday.  And thousands flocked to a pro-democracy protest camp in Hong Kong ahead of government action to clear the area.  One protester explained: “We may not succeed immediately but we must keep trying.  We cannot bow down to an unjust political system.”

In my Bible reading plan, I have been studying 1 Chronicles recently.  The book begins with genealogical lists, not the most exciting passages in Scripture.  But sprinkled throughout the litany of names are references to “mighty warriors.”  This is the only descriptor that stands out consistently in the record, found among the tribes of Manasseh (5:24), Issachar (7:2, 5), Benjamin (7:7, 11), Asher (7:40), and the family of Saul (8:40).  The Hebrew means “vigorous men of courage, strength, and capacity.”

Does the world need more “mighty warriors” today?

This week I read Tyler Wigg-Stevenson’s insightful The World Is Not Ours To Save.  He describes the “host of truly global crises” we face today: “the globalization of financial markets as well as manufacture and supply chains in which a collapse anywhere can trigger collapse everywhere; the threat of catastrophic pandemic disease in an era of rapid transcontinental travel; climate change, which is already manifesting in many and terrifying ways; looming resource crises around clean water and fossil fuels; and the underregulated progress in nano- and biotechnologies.”  Clearly, we need more women and men courageous enough to fight the Ebolas we face.

But there are three caveats.  First, do only what you are called to do.  Wigg-Stevenson notes that we are to care about everything Jesus cares about, but carry only what he has given us to bear.  Jesus calls you to “take my yoke upon you” (Matthew 11:29), doing only what he specifically leads and empowers you to do.

Second, fulfill God’s calling in God’s power.  He promises, “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).  But he can give only what you will receive.  Self-sufficiency is spiritual suicide.

Third, fulfill God’s calling in God’s power for God’s glory.  In The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis has one of his characters observe: “There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself . . . There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ.”

God’s calling in God’s power for God’s glory—is this not the story of Christmas?  Will you make it your story today as well?

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