CHURCH IS NOT A BUILDING – CHURCH IS THE PEOPLE OF GOD
WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO CHURCH – WE WILL CONTINUE TO BE CHURCH
2020 VISION – WE NEED TO SEE THINGS CLEARLY – FROM GOD’S POINT OF VIEW
HOW IS THE CHURCH GOING TO BE DIFFERENT?
PART 9: BEING A WITNESS TO THOSE LIVING IN…
“THE OVERLOADED SOCIETY”
INTRODUCTION – WHAT IS TRUTH?
The blessing of our technological age is both a blessing and a curse. At the click of a button we have access to information from around the world in the form of news, knowledge, interpretation and opinion that has never been available before in the history of the world.
We have technology in the form of computers, tablets and “Smart Phones”, the internet, the media outlets of television and radio as well as a plethora of social media outlets – all of which often give exactly the same base of information but in totally different ways.
Take the current controversy over the wearing of face masks as we continue in this Coronavirus Crisis. Should we wear them? Do we need to wear them? One expert says one thing and another says another….WHAT SHOULD WE DO!!!!
And we have become an overloaded society bombarded with data – and we ask what is real news and what is “fake” news? What should I be looking for and what should I be discarding as rubbish? And there is so much of “it” that our brains are just incapable of holding it all.
And with Pontius Pilate we find ourselves asking the question “What is truth?” (John 18: 38)– does it really exist or is it whatever we want it to be – or worse still, whatever “they” want us to believe?
In this society of overloaded information and endless choices we need ourselves to know – and then be witnesses of – the only One who is able to declare “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” (John 14: 6)
We have to be able to clear out of the way all the distractions of our enemy, the devil, so that we can see clearly the right way.
We need “2020 Vision”.
THE ANTIDOTE TO THE OVERLOADED SOCIETY – “UP PERISCOPE”!
I was sent the following extract on this very subject – taken from an on-line publication called “The Real Truth” – it bears close scrutiny:
Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.
Psalm 25:5, NLT
I was recently watching a fascinating documentary on television about how the Royal Navy train commanders of their nuclear submarines. In their final set of tasks there were several civilian boats on the water as well as the warship that was there as part of the test. As such, the trainee commander soon became inundated with information from all of the high-tech surveillance equipment these multi-billion-pound machines have to offer. But, being in a submarine, there was a wholehearted reliance on the technology, and this led to a mass of varying pictures and scenarios that didn’t seem to make sense. They called this excessive information ‘the curse of the modern submariner’, where reality gets lost in an overload of reports, information and opinions.
In the midst of this an observing Rear Admiral of the Navy took the trainee aside and said, “Look through the periscope.” As he did, the trainee saw the situation for what it really was and the Admiral said, “You’ve now got a completely different view of the problem. It’s not as bad as you thought it was.” This was the turning point for the trainee commander.
I very much related to this scenario, where I too can receive information overload with all the online and media access that we have. Opinions can be quoted as fact, misinformation spread, perceptions and information come fast and loose with little time for processing or discerning whether its roots are in truth or not. Soon, we too can become overloaded and start to become overwhelmed by what we now perceive to be an intensively complex situation.
We need to be able to look at our lives and world events through the eyes of the One who truly knows the real truth. We need to allow ourselves to let God’s truth and view of the situations cut through all the noise of opinion and information that is thrown at us with discerning hearts and minds.
It is in this place we can see the situation for what it is, from His perspective, not our own. From there, we can find the promised perfect peace in our hearts.
THE ANTIDOTE TO THE OVERLOADED SOCIETY – THE BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
A society that is overloaded with information that is so often contradictory about things of both life and eternity is not a new thing. The following story from the life of Paul is set in Athens which was the centre of culture and learning in the 1st C ad Roman world. Athens was a great city full of people seeking the way and the truth and the life – and full of people suffering from information overload:
ACTS 17: 16-23, 32-34
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the market-place day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, ‘What is this babbler trying to say?’ Others remarked, ‘He seems to be advocating foreign gods.’ They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.’ 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: ‘People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship – and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, ‘We want to hear you again on this subject.’ 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
What is an idol? It is the visible representation of a god; and a god was the man-made way by which people sought to make sense of the world in which they lived. Man has been made to need to have something or someone to believe in; something or someone that will show them the right way and the truth; someone or something that will provide meaning to existence.
There were SO MANY Idols we are told in verse 16. The meaning of this is that there are so many different ways that man has tried to understand life by. There are SO MANY idols – showing that the people of Athens just couldn’t agree to what was the right way to follow.
There were SO MANY idols and each of them offered a different view of life, different promises of fulfilment in life, different emphases on life – different routes to follow.
And no-one knew which was the right way. No-one knew which god to follow. There was total confusion – with everyone saying “mine is the right god to worship” and others saying “it doesn’t matter which god you worship – they all lead to the same place”. There was information overload!
And along came Paul and cut through the whole mess of it all. He told the Athenians clearly that even they realised that there was an “unknown god” that was the answer to all the confusion. And he told them clearly that Jehovah God was the one true God and that Jesus is His Son and that all they need is Him. Here was the antidote to the “overloaded society” – cut through all the confusion of different information, philosophies and religions – look to Jesus – for He alone is the hope of all mankind and the answer to all their questions.
CONCLUSION: OVERLOADED BY LIFE – THE ANTIDOTE
Information overload is NOT just due to technology.
This is where things tie in with our previous subjects.
Sometimes we are “overloaded by life”. Problems arise in relationships, finances or work that we just don’t know the right way forward with. As we think we are overloaded with thoughts as to the way forward. We talk the problem through with friends and colleagues and get a plethora of different opinions of what we should do – ALL of which seem to have some merit. So…what is the right way forward?
And again we have to come back to basics. We have to clear all the ideas and suggestions off of the table and go back to God – what does HE say? What does His WORD say? What does the SPIRIT say?
It’s time to “up periscope” and see the situation clearly – see the situation from God’s point of view.
As we cry out in desperation because of the things that are happening in our lives I am reminded of the Biblical story of “Blind Bartimaeus”. Let us come away from all the thoughts and opinions that surround us and cry out:
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
And then He WILL reply “What do you want Me to do for you?”
And we should answer: “Lord, I want to see!”
When we look at Jesus we can see clearly through the mire of overload.
We can have “2020 Vision”
…AND NOW – THE FINAL BIT…
As we enter a “summer holiday” during August we are “taking a break” from Sunday Celebration Services for the month.
Keep an eye on Facebook and on emails to know what will be on offer during this month – especially if you are hoping to be able to keep up with church family relationships during this time – and for updates on when we will be re-starting our Sunday Celebration Services.
Let us use this time to embed what we have been learning – particularly over the last couple of weeks.
Let us use this time to make the decision that we are going to “wait on the Lord” – spending time building a tighter and tighter relationship with Him – through thought, meditation and prayer; through being daily filled with the Holy Spirit and through immersing ourselves in the Word.
Let us use this time to “up periscope” and step away from the “overloaded society” and just focus on Him.
And then, as we “wait on the Lord” our strength WILL be renewed and we WILL rise on wings of eagles – into the clear air of the Spirit.
And OH HOW WONDERFUL that will be!
And then, when we return in September, we WILL return with our spiritual (and physical) strength renewed, and with a renewed passion to be His witnesses to all the world – beginning here in Ashford as we accept the mission to which we have been privileged to have been called.