I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.
At this critical time in our nation’s history we cannot afford to sit back with hands folded, waiting for the end to come. What can we do as Americans and Christians to effect real change in our country? And how do we balance our responsibility to share the gospel and yet also to delay the decay of our country? We’re going to be answering those questions in this series.
Christians tend to go to one of two extremes in relating to our culture. Some Christians adopt the extreme of political activism. As they see our country sliding toward immorality, they think: “We need to get active politically. If we can elect the right leaders, if we can enact the right legislation, then we can save America.” Yet I want you to consider the apostle Paul. This warrior of the Christian faith lived in the most godless culture in history. It was because of the Roman Empire’s anti-Christian hostility that he ended up in prison. But what was Paul’s attitude toward his persecution? When Paul was in prison he wrote a letter to the Christians at Philippi. Did he say, “Because of my persecution we need to overthrow Nero?” He never once advocated overthrowing the Roman emperor. In fact when you read Paul’s letter to the Philippians, 19 times he says, “Rejoice.”
Now, if Paul had had the same life purpose that most Christians have—pleasure, prosperity, peace—then his imprisonment would have been a tragedy. But Paul had a greater purpose in life than peace and prosperity and pleasure. He had dedicated his life to sharing the gospel of Christ with as many people as possible. And that gave him a different lens through which to view his imprisonment. He said, “This imprisonment is helping me achieve the goal of spreading the gospel. Because of my imprisonment people have courage to share their faith with other people.”
And then Paul moves beyond his own situation and gives us a lens through which to view our decaying culture. In Philippians 2:14-15 Paul says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” Is there any better description of the culture in which we live right now than “crooked and perverse”? Yet notice what Paul said. He didn’t say, “Philippians, your job is to straighten out your crooked and perverse generation.” Instead, he reminded them that against the darkness of the world in which they lived, they were to be children of light holding out the word of life. Paul understood an important principle about light: the darker the background, the brighter the light.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.