Perhaps 2020’s most commonly used phrase was, “These are uncertain times”. It seems, however, that 2021 is quickly removing the “un” as we see an ever-increasing polarization in our country. It’s troubling, of course, to see what’s happening in our government, and as inheritors of God’s eternal Word, it is the job of the Church to pray for and remind them of their Scriptural mandate (Romans 13:4, 6). However, it is also the job of the Church to not identify ourselves more as citizens of America than citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).
As I’ve been following the news and speaking with many of you, it’s become clear that the news cycle is close to everyone’s mind. This past Sunday in catechism, while discussing providence, I wagered that each of their homes had been filled with talks of what’s been happening in the US. Suddenly, each looked up, eyes rolled, and every head nodded vigorously. There was great uncertainty last year, but it feels like now we can bank on one certainty: the heart of man will prove its wickedness, no matter its political ideology.
Given the increasing evil and immorality, one of the verses that has been of immense comfort to me is 1 Peter 1:7, wherein the Apostle describes our faith as “more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire”. What a contrast to the hopes of many in our world! Money is power in America, but in the talks of redistribution of wealth, capitalism versus socialism, equality of outcome, taxes, etc., you and I have the universe’s most precious gift: faith.
Faith in Christ – though it be tested by the fires of evil – is the assurance that this world is not our home (Hebrews 13:14), and that we are seen and loved by a God who “removes kings and sets up kings;” (Daniel 2:21), who stands age to age the same (Isaiah 40:28, Psalm 90:2, Hebrews 13:8, Revelation 22:13), who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8) who never leaves and never forsakes (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5), who experientially knows our pain and suffering (Hebrews 4:15, 5:7-8), and who has redeemed us through the invaluable blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19).
In the unknown, Ben Franklin once said that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. The Bible adds a third and fourth for the Christian: animosity from the world (John 15:20-21), and eternal life in the Christ (John 6:39, Hebrews 7:25).
As the wickedness of mankind’s hearts comes increasingly into view and hostility becomes the norm, Jesus reminds us: “do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1). In Christ Jesus, you have a gift that no one could buy (Ephesians 2:8-9). When at the judgment throne all are standing before Christ, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates can pool all their money together and attempt to purchase their way into heaven, but their gold will perish and come to nothing. Your faith and its benefits, however, will not.
Remember that God is faithful to those He loves (Exodus 34:6, Deuteronomy 9:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:3), and He has not lost control of this world (Daniel 4:17, 4:34-35, Acts 12:20-23, Colossians 1:16-17). Though your 401k may one day disappear, your health evaporate, your finances get taxed beyond reasonability, and your freedoms become extinct, one thing that can never be taken away is that if you believe in Jesus, you have a gift more precious and rare than all the jewels of the world combined
So rest, trust in our God. What can man do to us that God doesn’t ordain? (Proverbs 16:33, Job 42:2, Romans 8:28). And remember that all mankind – wicked or righteous – go to the same grave (Ecclesiastes3:20), for all are like grass of the field that barely lasts the night (Psalm 103:15, 1 Peter 1:24). That is why mankind is always laboring for yesterday and today, because they’re trying to leave a legacy on which to look back. Yet when the Scriptures call us to look back, it is always to see how God proved His loving sovereignty and faithfulness so that those with faith can have assurance for today and tomorrow.
We may be coming into times that appear most certain to bring animosity to the Church, but never forget what you own. Because of the faith that God has given you in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9), your future is secure. The rich and powerful of this world are laboring and striving to write their names in history. Let them have it. What good does it do the dead? For us, our God conquered history to ensure the future. So let them write their names in history, for ours are already written in eternity (Revelation 13:8, 21:27). That much is certain.
My name is Bryan Lanting. I am a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, and I am presently serving Mt View CRC as their pastor. I am married to a wonderful wife named Sydney, and both of us are loving life, loving Lynden, and loving the Lord!