Exalting Christ in community and mission


Several years ago, our family went out to a dude ranch in Wyoming for a week of horseback riding.  Riding twice a day for a week can really foster and a bond between you and the horse.  My horse was wonderfully named, Outlaw. My ride was surely the troublemaker of the bunch, repeatedly getting into everyone else’s business.  But the aptly named horse of the bunch was my brother-in-law Todd’s horse, Fud.  Fud rhymes with Dud, and this horse fit that sound, always having to be kicked and prodded to keep up.

It wasn’t until a year or so later that I realized that Fud is also an acronym that describes our culture.  FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. In 2020, Covid-19 has everyone around the world filled with fear, uncertainty and doubt as to how it will affect us day to day.  It has us waiting expectantly.  We are waiting for schools to reopen, the market to recover, the latest updates from the Johns-Hopkins site on the virus totals.

The question for us to consider is “What are you waiting for?” I would urge us to realize that we are waiting for something bigger, and fortunately better, than the latest Covid-19 update.  It’s been said that there are 2 sure things in life: death and taxes.  However, biblically speaking, there is one that is even more sure. The Lord Jesus Christ will return, and when he does so, He will usher in for us the answer to our ultimate waiting. Some will be granted the gift of bodily resurrection and eternity with the Lord. Others will receive the sentence of eternal death. The passage upon which I preached on March 15th makes that extremely clear, and I invite you to read Revelation 20.

If you were curious and gracious enough to pause to read it, I thank you.  After doing so, you might be thinking…C’mon really, I can’t picture that…a beast, a key, a chain, a dragon…before reading something about some resurrection, I had already started daydreaming about a fairy tale and then off to what really matters – my retirement is being depleted and I’m not sure I’ll have a job in a month.

The true reality with which I would encourage us all is that God’s word is living, active and more real than our fears about Covid-19 or schools shutting down or your retirement. Jesus will come back and your response to His commands for how to be truly clean through faith in His cleansing blood matter infinitely and eternally more than whether you remembered to wash your hands after you touched that doorknob. Spend a few minutes pondering – are you really waiting for?

There is much to be said of that passage, and I encourage you to catch the sermon if you have more time.  But the one simple point which I will pull for this blog is the fact that the devil is bound.  The binding of the ultimate source of evil, the devil, Satan, the serpent, the dragon, took place at the first coming of Jesus Christ.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  He is the most formidable foe ever, and he still rages around as a raging lion.  However, he is on a leash, as Jesus made clear that in Mark 3:27  “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man.”  This binding, though, is specific, it is such that as Rev 20:2 says (and uses the same word as Mark 3:27), he “might not deceive the nations”.  Thus, the gospel now prevails outside of the original nation of Israel. It goes forth to the nations, to every tribe and tongue.  This is wonderful and great news in which we rejoice at the effect of the gospel, even in this period of distancing.  Let us continue with the restriction of “physical distancing”, but not “social distancing”.  Let’s seek as best we can to creatively and relationally build additional social contacts and continuing to share the gospel while maintaining the physical distancing.

In conclusion, I realize that there is surely much that leads to fear, uncertainty and doubt.  Realize this. Just about every phone call, every email you get from some agency, is going to communicate these words to you: “Be safe” or “Your safety is our highest concern.”  We get that from our places of work, our fitness center, even our gas and electric suppliers! At Church of the Redeemer, your safety is our concern for sure. But we will be the first to say that your physical safety is actually NOT our highest concern. Your eternal safety IS.  For that reason, we emphasize that for the Christian, we are called to live not by FUD, but as a S-T-U-D.  Speak-truth-until-death. Just a couple months ago, that might have seemed overly dramatic.  That is not the case now. In the passage in Revelation 20, the martyrs referenced were not preppers who were hiding in caves. They were living faithfully and giving their testimonies in the face of persecution and hardship – until death.  The reward they received was far greater than any perceived safety this world might offer.  Let us therefore live in such a way that we are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of others and for our Lord and King of Kings, who Himself was more than willing to speak truth until death for your and my eternal safety.