“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day.
As I sit here writing this, I find myself continuing to think about the most recent acts of mass assault against innocent people that our nation has had to endure over the last month alone, Las Vegas, New York, and most recently, Sutherland Springs, Texas. Dozens of people killed in just a little over a month in senseless acts of violence. More pain, more trauma, more arguing over what to do next and how to stop this madness.
Some say the answer is in stricter gun control regulations and laws. Others say the issue boils down to mental health problems. Some say that the problem is in how we raise our kids with an obsession of violence in video games and on the television. I’m not going to try get into any of those arguments, they are all so politically charged that no one really is listening to each other in these things anyway.
But what can we do in such times as this? Should we throw our energies and efforts into the fight for gun control or better care for the mentally ill? Maybe, that’s up to you and your conscience before the Lord, but there is one clear call to us from God’s word that we ought to heed. It seems to me that the call to the Christian in our culture today is the same call that every generation of God’s people has had. Our passage above was written to Israel many generations ago and to a different culture, but through it we ought to be reminded of how the Lord would have us live in our own dangerous and divisive times. Here are three principles to guide us in such times as this.
- Be in right relationship with your Creator (vs. 12). We are told to fear the Lord because this is the beginning of wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 9:10). We should not fear the troubles of this world, but place our fear in the only appropriate place, in the Lord Himself (Isaiah 8:13). We are also told to love and serve the Lord with all our hearts and with all our souls. Every ounce of our being is meant to be used in pursuit of a relationship with our God, pleasing Him and honoring Him in all we do. Steering our fears of the dangers of this world, and steering our hopes and affections to Him re-orients our perspectives and gives us hope in a world of chaos. We must turn our eyes to the Lord and rest our hopes and fears squarely on Him.
- Obey the heart and ways of your Creator (vs.12&13). Many today seem to minimize the need of obedience to the character and will of God. We have cheapened God’s grace to the point that we have no fear of His wrath and no fear of the consequences of sin. Disobedience to God always brings death(Romans 3:23). We see and suffer the consequences of sin everyday. While salvation comes only as a gift of God’s grace found in Jesus Christ, we also have the responsibility to live in a way that honors God and gives Him glory. When we obey the heart and character of God in this fallen world, we show off His great glory and goodness, and offer a better hope to those who see our trust in God through our actions.
- Remember that all things are in God’s hand (vs. 15). Lastly, we need to see that God is the Sovereign Lord over all things. Both heaven and earth belong to Him and He holds all things together. More than that, if you are in Christ you are one of His chosen people. The Lord has set His love on you from all eternity. There is nothing or no one who can tear you away from this love. God’s sovereignty should be a great source of comfort and confidence as we live through these fearsome and distressing times. No matter what happens in life or in death, the Lord is still on His throne and He will accomplish righteousness and justice in all the earth.
Be encouraged by the promises of God in His Word. Embrace Him through Jesus Christ, live in His ways by faith, and trust in His good plans for you and the world. This is how we ought to live in times such as this.
Grace and Peace.