In God We Trust
For the Christian church in the world today, it is the best of times and it is the worst of times.
Globally, the growth of the Christian church has never been greater. At the same time, persecution of Christians has never been more widespread. In these tumultuous times of extremes, these two realities best capture the nature of our season.
Accurate statistics are difficult to come by, but multiple sources estimate that the number of followers of Jesus is growing the most rapidly in places where there is the most extreme persecution – like Iran and China.
In our own nation, Christian organizations are being excluded routinely from public universities, and labeled as purveyors of hate simply for espousing traditional biblical teachings.
It’s likely to get worse before it gets better: Recently a Finnish lawmaker was criminally prosecuted for a hate crime for posting Bible verses which supported a traditional moral view.
A Bible verse as hate speech?
Live Like We Have a Savior
I recently returned from Saudi Arabia where the head of the World Muslim League publicly invited Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu and other religious leaders to meet together and respect each other’s faiths. These types of meetings happen often in America, but never before in Saudi Arabia – home of the two holiest sites in Islam.
It was a gathering in a location I never imagined could happen.
My message in this season of disorientating global events, when war, pandemics and climate concerns shake our world, is that we must remain a people of bedrock hope. We know a Savior, but more is required. We must live like we have a Savior.
I find many leaders who profess a faith in Jesus but live like all the promises he made only come true in Heaven. Therefore, they walk holding on to a shaky world and trusting more what cable news says than the Bible.
The sacrifice of Jesus paid for my sins, the sins that I could never atone for. What a great gift to me! What a great good coming out of a terrible situation.
Let us be hopeful in a dark season.
So let us live by faith during a very turbulent time. Let us be hopeful in a dark season.
Let us be joyful facing our challenges. Knowing by faith and our personal experience that God will make something good even out of our challenges in this world because: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28, NASB)
In God We Trust
We need to live and lead like who we say we are – sons and daughters of an Almighty God. We need to live and lead by the motto of our land, "In God We Trust." We say it. Do we believe it? More to the point, do we live like we believe it?
We must have faith or Jesus can’t work through us because of the “littleness of our faith." We must believe or our lives will be those of timid little scaredy cats when the world needs us to be bold and confident lions. Or, at the very least, fearless and joyful children completely trusting that God will provide no matter what.
Which will you be?
I must admit that I struggle with my faith in this world of fearful things. The first year of COVID, I fought with fear frequently. I got hit with a fear of interacting with other people and a fear of the virus.
Fear is such a killer of life and of relationships.
What better testimony is there to the Light of the World?
When fear covers the face of the earth, we should respond by shining our calm, joyful, and steady light as a light house testifying of another way. What better testimony is there to the Light of the World?
Glowing as the World Darkens
On a trip last year to Texas to see our youngest daughter and her husband, I was walking back to their house from getting a cup of coffee.
Storm clouds churned in the sky with a menacing look telling me inclement weather could be coming. Instead of rushing on home, a thought inside me caused me to stop and take a moment to observe my surroundings.
Looking across the street, I saw a light on a pole starting to glow in response to the darkening sky. On top of that light pole, a small bird was perched, just singing his little heart out.
There was my answer.
As the world grows darker with a pending storm, we should begin to glow. And then, don't curse the darkness, but sing with all we are worth in it.
Sam Brownback served as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom from February 2018 to January 2021. He served as Governor of Kansas from 2011 to 2018. Prior to that he represented Kansas in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on the issue of religious freedom in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Ambassador Brownback currently serves as co-chair for the International Religious Freedom Summit and as a Senior Fellow at Open Doors USA. He is also chairman of the National Committee for Religious Freedom.