An Amazon driver named Kevin Rivera was finishing his route in Long Island, New York, when he saw a house on fire. Through the front door, he could see several people inside the home, including a woman and a baby. They were apparently unaware of the fire, so he courageously rushed in to help.
He got the family of seven to leave through the back door and away from the flames, then he rescued their two dogs. When they got outside and saw their burning house, they realized how dire their situation was. “They just started crying,” Rivera said later. “They just got emotional.”
To those thanking him for his bravery, Rivera replied, “To be honest, I just feel great that I did something.”
Report recommends all adults be checked for depression
This story points to two relevant facts today. Here’s the first: Our cultural house is on fire, but most of the people living in it don’t know it.
The United States Air Force Academy is instructing cadets to refrain from calling their parents “mom” or “dad” and to use words that “include all genders.” A former Mississippi official pled guilty yesterday to misusing millions of dollars in federal aid meant for poor families. The Boston Celtics’ head coach was suspended for the season for an inappropriate relationship with a female team employee. Boeing agreed to pay $200 million for misleading the public about the 737 Max following two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.
A US government panel recommended this week that all adults under the age of sixty-five be screened for anxiety disorders and all adults be checked for depression. The report is both relevant and urgent as anxiety and depression continue to escalate in American society.
And yet, we are turning from Christ and Christianity in record numbers: the percentage of self-professed Christians in America is predicted to fall from 64 percent in 2020 to as low as 35 percent by 2070. “Nones,” those who have no religious affiliation, are expected to rise from the current 30 percent to as high as 52 percent by that time.
If Christians suggest that the problem is sin, we are dismissed as outdated, irrelevant, or even judgmental and dangerous to others. As a result, our secularized society is convinced that the cure is worse than the cause.
“You will not surely die”
This fact leads to a second observation: One of the hardest things to do in life is to help people who don’t believe they need help. If people don’t think their house is on fire, they’ll likely refuse our attempts to rescue them. The same is true with their souls.
Here we meet one of Satan’s most effective strategies: deluding humans into believing that we do not need what Scripture teaches, that we can dismiss the word and will of God and make our own decisions for our own advancement.
In the garden of Eden, he convinced our first parents that God’s warning was wrong: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Instead, by violating God’s clear instruction, they could “be like God” (v. 5). And we know personally the results.
We have been falling for the same deception ever since: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
“We are to be saved by our good works”
In his fascinating spiritual biography of Thomas Jefferson, Baylor historian Thomas Kidd notes that our third president was certain that when he died he would, in his own words, “ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved & lost and whom we shall still love and never lose again.” Upon what did he base such confidence?
Jefferson absolutely rejected the divinity of Jesus, convinced that “Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of god physically speaking.” He believed that “we are to be saved by our good works which are within our power, and not by our faith which is not within our power.”
Late in his life, Jefferson summed up his faith: “Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself; and your country more than life. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. And the life into which you have entered will be the passage to one of eternal and ineffable bliss.”
In short, he was convinced that we are to “adore God” but trust our good works for salvation.
“God put that in my plan to use it as my platform”
Despite Thomas Jefferson’s skepticism, the evidence for Jesus’ uniqueness and divinity based on history, archaeology, ancient manuscripts, and logic is remarkably compelling. (For examples, see my website article, “Why Jesus?”) But many in our postmodern culture are likely to dismiss our arguments as “our truth.”
They measure truth by relevance, which is actually good news for the gospel.
When people see the transforming difference the risen Christ makes in us, they will want what we have and be drawn to the Lord we serve. Charles Spurgeon was right: “A Christian man should so shine in his life that a person could not live with him a week without knowing the gospel.”
NFL quarterback Trey Lance is a case in point. The San Francisco 49ers traded three first-round picks to Miami for the right to select him in the 2021 NFL Draft. They designated him their starting quarterback before this season began. Then, in the second game of the season, he fractured his right ankle and had to have season-ending surgery.
Lance posted an update on Instagram Tuesday, sharing an image of himself from his hospital bed and quoting Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” On his Twitter profile, he calls himself a “child of God” before he describes himself as the “San Francisco 49ers Quarterback.”
He told Yahoo! Sports in 2020, “Football is not who I am, it’s what I do. I’m obviously going to put everything possible into it because that’s what I love to do. But at the end of the day, I think God put that in my plan to use it as my platform.”
What is your platform?