Hate This Election? Love one another.

I have a friend who I am convinced is the smartest guy around. This past summer, he turned off the TV news. He has no Facebook, Twitter, or other social media accounts. But he does have a joyful disposition and peace in his soul—even in the midst of this excruciating election cycle. This election isn’t pretty. There is no viable candidate with integrity. None worthy of even a tepid endorsement. Christians across the country are perplexed, distressed, outraged, and disgusted. Our choice appears to be between Constantine and Diocletian.

love-one-another-simpleThe truth is, we might be more than a little distracted. Perhaps we need a fresh look at first things. We must first love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Second, we must love others as we love ourselves. This election is challenging our love for others in general, and our love for one another in particular. And that’s a shame.

The mark of the Christian is love for one another. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another,” (John 13:35). Suffice it to say, for American Christians, love has not been the most noticeable Facebook trend. Nevertheless, we carry on. There are great victories being won around the world as the gospel goes forward, and Christians continue to love one another fervently from the heart.

I thought this might be a good time for a few examples of Christian love:

In South Sudan, Christians are living among tribes that have no written language. These Christians are helping the Toposa people learn the good news of Christ and the gospel through songs. The Toposa people are an oral culture—no books, no sermon notes, no writing tablets. But they love to sing and dance. So Christians are helping them continue their songs and dances, while introducing the good news of God’s redemption through music. Check it out here: https://www.imb.org/singing-the-gospel-how-oral-learners-encounter-truth/

Another example of Christian love comes from across the Atlantic. London, England, is a world unto itself. The city has at least 8.6 million inhabitants (that’s the official census figure, experts think the real number is much higher). Among the millions of people, there are at minimum 300 different languages spoken. Into this ethnic and cultural mix, Christians are intentionally moving in and living among the many unbelievers. London has become a magnet for ordinary Christians (not full-time missionaries) to work in their professional capacity by day, while staying focused on loving others with the good news of God’s love in the evenings and on weekends. See the full story: https://www.imb.org/london-making-disciples-in-the-capital-of-the-world/

idop-20-yearsFinally, there may be something more important than the election happening this November! Sunday, November 6th (and Sunday the 13th), the International Day of Prayer (IDOP) will celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Originally begun in 1996 by the Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Association, the International Day of Prayer is now a global movement of millions of Christians joining together in prayer for those suffering persecution. Open Doors USA, The Voice of the Martyrs, and the World Evangelical Alliance all make resources available so your church can participate in this important event to serve fellow Christians through prayer. Fulfill John 13:35 by joining with other Christians to pray for suffering saints.

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

prayer persecuted church idopHopefully, you will be attending an International Day of Prayer (IDOP) event for the persecuted church.  I have been part of the IDOP movement for 13 years now, and it provides encouragement for me year after year.

Specifically, I am always encouraged in two ways. First, I am encouraged by the joy of the persecuted. Like the Apostle Paul says in Romans 5, Christians exult in their tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance. Perseverance brings about proven character, and proven character brings about hope, which can never disappoint.  The expectation going into one of these events for the persecuted church is that it will be a somber, dour time of hearing about suffering and oppression. The reality is that victory is more pronounced than defeat!

Second, I am always encouraged by the unity of the body of Christ. Christians from many different churches (1/2 million different churches!) will gather for the one body of Christ still suffering on earth.  That is glorious. We frequently referred to our IDOP event back in Kentucky as “One Night for the World.” The idea was that our differences would not divide us, but bring us together for one night to proclaim to the world that we are the body of Christ, and our identity is ultimately bound up in our Head, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I hope you will be encouraged by your attendance at the International Day of Prayer. I am speaking in Van Dyne Gym on the campus of California Baptist University at 6:30pm, Sunday, November 10.


An Important Event You Don’t Have to Miss

Scripture teaches us to make the most of our time because the days are evil. One of the ways to make the most of your time is to invest your time in the church. Why the church? Simply this, the church is the body and bride of Christ.

I suspect that you are aware of your own body constantly (either by its limitations or its opportunities to survive and flourish). Likewise, if you are married, you are constantly aware of (and hopefully concerned about) your husband or your wife.  These concerns for our bodies and for our brides are reflective of the ultimate concern Christ has for His own body and His own bride–the church. Jesus loves the church.  Project 13:3 IDOP prayer persecution christian persecution Nigeria

Out of this love, Jesus bears an intense burden for His saints who suffer–particularly for His saints who suffer persecution on account of their belonging to Him (see Matthew 5:10-12).  Recognizing this degree of love, Project 13:3 is joining together with Christians everywhere to remember the persecuted church on Sunday, November 11, at 6:00p.m.

Project 13:3 has put together a program which features Christian persecution in Nigeria. Not only will the program include testimony from Nigerian Christians through video, but it will also include live prayers by Nigerian Christians on behalf of their brothers and sisters being targeted by violence. Christians have suffered persecution every day this year in Nigeria. Violence is a diurnal reality. We can help them with our prayers.

If you cannot make the live event, you can still join Project 13:3 via livestream. There is no reason to miss this significant event.