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Grounded in God's Truth

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by Josh Howeth

Hey GBC family,

How can we agree on something that happened 2,000 years ago if we cannot agree on what happened a month or so ago in our nation’s capitol?

That is a question that troubles me as a Christian and as a pastor.

It’s not a new revelation to point out that we live in what is called a post-truth society. We’ve tried to navigate these modern waters as followers of Jesus for some time now. Our conversations and good-hearted debate have revolved around philosophical and theological questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, heaven and hell, human identity, how someone is made right with God, and so on.

What we are seeing now is not simply debate around philosophical and theological convictions, but around historical events in real time. What is essentially being debated is reality.

But, what concerns me is not so much that people aren’t agreeing on events that are taking place in 2020-21. What is at stake is the ability to communicate the true, timeless news that God has taken on flesh to redeem us from our sin and the curse of the world through the death and resurrection of His Son.

If historical events are viewed as unknowable and untrustworthy in real time to a modern person, how will that person view the historical events of Jesus’ life? If we are moving into a future where simple facts about world events are now debated (and not merely shades off from one another, but completely opposite narratives being proposed), how can we move forward while holding out the truth of the gospel in a world that has an even deeper relativity to truth?

In this short space of writing, I want to try and get us grounded in God’s truth so that we can start moving forward with grace and truth. I want to encourage us by asking 4 brief questions.

1. What am I sowing?

Galatians 6:7–10 says: Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

We must pause and ask ourselves, what am I sowing into my life and mind today?

What information am I consuming? Am I meditating on God’s word and feasting on Him? Am I thinking about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and worthy of praise? (Philippians 4:8)

We are all making investments. Every single day we are sowing. We can make investments that one day result in eternal good and lasting gain, or we can sow bitterness, isolation, pride, and the like.

We are going to reap something. We can harvest God’s gracious work through His truth if we are sowing His word in our lives today.

2. What’s most important?

It’s easy to give an appropriate answer to what is most important in our lives. But our lives expose what we view as most important. 

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 says, “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

The good news of what Jesus has done in real history is what is most important. When we elevate things to places of primary importance things that should really land lower on the shelf of our hearts, we divide when really we just need to learn how to talk to one another.

If I want to understand what is most important to me, I try to look for where my knuckles are white. Meaning, I’m looking for what I’m holding onto tightly. That can be discovered often by reflecting on what I get angry at and what I’m afraid of. Fear and anger often expose what our hearts think is most important.

3. Who’s my community?

Hebrews 10:23-25 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

We are to hold fast to the confession of Jesus as our Savior and King. We do that by meeting together, stirring each other up with encouragement while we await what we know is true: Jesus is coming again.

Not only does information create narratives; communities also create narratives. The question is if the narrative that is being created is true. We all know the sad and horrible stories of cults or people who grow up believing lies about their family or even the world, only to discover that they had been lied to. This could have been done out of negligence or it could have been in order to control others. We see it in the negative sense, but the positive side is true as well.

A person’s character matters. Because you will become who you spend time with. We know this and that is why your parents cared who your friends were. So we must ask who are community is. Do we actually know the people who are influencing us? Do we know their character? Am I isolated in my local community because my actual community is mainly online?

I’ve encouraged us many times throughout the last year to do all you can to live locally. In a globalized world, we can be aware of a lot that goes on, but we live locally. Local is our reality.

As Christians we seek to do good for the sake of Jesus in East County. And we surround ourselves with others who are sources we know and trust.

4. Am I free?

Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus tells us that His true disciples make their home in His Word. And as they do that, the truth sets us free. The freedom He is talking about is freedom from sin. He says in verse 34, “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin…..If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

We become free when we become His servant. Freedom then is found in embracing the truth that Jesus is the King who died to set me free. So as I follow Him, I am truly free.

So am I free? Or am I driven by fear, anger, and anxiousness? Am I becoming more like Christ or less like him? These diagnostic questions show us when we aren’t abiding in the truth.

If we ever doubt what is true, we must return to the One who said that He is the truth (John 14:6). Truth is found in a Person.

I don’t have all the answers, but here’s a start: We find our reality in Jesus. Then we keep sowing and we surround ourselves with godly people who look like Him.

With great affection for you all,

Josh