My father was born on this day in 1924, one day after George H. W. Bush. While my father died in 1979, Mr. Bush is now the first US president to reach ninety-four years of age.
I turned sixty earlier this year. When my father and Mr. Bush were my age, it’s hard to imagine that they could have imagined a story like this one:
A transgender man recently gave birth to a baby in the UK. British law states that those who give birth to children can only be noted as mothers on official documents. The parent has complained of discrimination. As a result, the baby could become the first person born in England and Wales not to have a legal mother.
Two verses we need today
The twenty-first century has brought remarkable advances for advancing the Great Commission. Christians can use digital technology to reach people previously inaccessible to our mission. We can use social media to win the lost and technology to disciple believers.
But this generation is also facing an unprecedented moral crisis.
Never before in American history has conventional wisdom been so unbiblical. From acceptance of homosexual behavior and marriage to advocacy for abortion and euthanasia to consumptionist materialism that marginalizes the soul, you and I are living in an age that desperately needs the very light it seeks to extinguish.
In this challenging context, two verses have become a great source of encouragement to me.
Writing to the Colossians, the smallest church Paul ever addressed, the apostle sought to offer support for their witness to their pagan culture. He testified, “Him [Jesus] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:28-29).
Let’s explore Paul’s testimony so we can make it ours.
“Him we proclaim”
Scott Jurek recently ran the Appalachian Trail. All of it, the entire 2,189-mile journey. He finished in forty-six days, eight hours, and seven minutes.
How did he do it? A veteran ultra-runner who accompanied Jurek on part of the trail explained their mantra: “This is who I am, and this is what I do.”
Cornell psychiatrist Ari Kiev: “In my practice as a psychiatrist, I have found that helping people to develop personal goals has proved to be the most effective way to help them cope with problems. Observing the lives of people who have mastered adversity, I have noted that they have established goals and sought with all their effort to achieve them. From the moment they decided to concentrate all their energies on a specific objective, they began to surmount the most difficult odds. . . . The establishment of a goal is the key to successful living.”
Paul’s life goal was clear: “Him we proclaim.” The Greek word translated “proclaim” means to announce or report. Paul’s syntax indicates that this was a present-tense, ongoing lifestyle commitment. He sought to proclaim Jesus in every way he could to everyone he could.
He did this by “warning” (admonishing people for their sins) and “teaching” (instructing in the right way to live) with all “wisdom” (applying biblical truth to life). His purpose was to “present” (to the Lord when he comes) everyone “mature” (complete and full-grown) “in Christ.”
Paul lived every day for the purpose of presenting everyone he knew one day to Jesus. He warned them about their sins and taught them how to live by applying biblical truth to their lives. Until everyone he knew was ready to meet Jesus, he had more to do.
His example is our invitation. The more our culture moves from biblical truth, the more we must redouble our commitment to proclaiming our Lord, warning of sin, and growing believers.
This is God’s goal for us. In these perilous times, nothing less will do.
“Struggling with all his energy”
Chinedum Nzelu is Managing Director of Currencies and Emerging Markets at JPMorgan Chase & Co. He describes foreign exchange, his area of focus, as “the largest financial market, transacting up to $5 trillion daily.”
In a recent article for Ozy, he explained the surprising secret to his remarkable career: “Getting in over your head should be part of your job. At the core of career mobility–climbing up the ladder, or maybe even jumping over to another ladder entirely–is the willingness to move to the unknown.”
Nzelu has learned to cultivate a “personal brand” that focuses on innovation and continuous learning. Rather than comparing himself to experts (which he calls “unnerving”), he has sought mentors along the way.
Consider his example in light of Paul’s testimony: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:29). The apostle was “struggling” (fighting) with all “his energy” (God’s strength) that he “powerfully” (from dunamis, “dynamite”) “works in me” (continues to put to work in and through my life).
Paul knew that he was “in over his head”–he could not convict sinners of sin or save souls, so all he did was for nothing unless the power of God fulfilled the purpose of God through his life.
Once again, Paul’s example is our invitation. Oswald Chambers is right: “When we choose deliberately to obey Him, then He will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us.”
Is God doing things only God can do through you? If not, check your life purpose. If you’ll make God’s goal your goal, God’s power will be your power.
Our culture has never needed Jesus-focused, Spirit-empowered Christians more than it does today.