Summary: Christian Survivors; Living Godly in a Godless World -- How to have faith when the pressure to give up is intense.
Christian Survivor – Part One
Living a Godly Life in a Godless World
(How to have faith when the pressure to give up is intense)
James 1.1-8 January 7, 2001
1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire,
wanting nothing. 5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,
that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.
For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
8A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Each Wednesday night [last] summer, 26 million Americans tuned in to watch the CBS program "Survivor."
One of the 16 castaways attempting to be the lone survivor who would walk away with a million dollars was a 24-year-old youth ministries major from Seattle Pacific University. When advised that each of the contestants could bring one "luxury" item to the remote island in the South China Sea, Dirk Been took his Bible. "I couldn’t imagine not having my quiet time with the Lord for a single day, let alone thirty-nine," he said.
Being forced to eat beetle larvae was not the most difficult ordeal Dirk had to face on the island. The hardest aspect of being marooned on a remote island was not having anyone around who shared his beliefs.
"The spiritual isolation was tortuous," Dirk admits. "The other members of the Tagi and Pagong tribes couldn’t understand where I was coming from.
When faced with the tensions of insufficient food and sleep (not to mention members of your tribe stabbing you in the back in an attempt to win a million dollars), he said, "I didn’t have someone I could really open up to and pray with."
Fortunately for Dirk, he felt the support of family and friends at home praying for him each day. The day before he left for Malaysia, about 70 members of Prairie du Sac Evangelical Free Church gathered around him to pray for his health and safety.
"It was awesome!" Dirk recalls. "And it didn’t end there. Even though I was alone and lonely as the sole Christian, I felt the presence of the Lord in incredible ways."
(I have to admit, I didn’t watch a single episode of Survivor. Stupid human behavior, backstabbing and big-time in-your-face attitudes sounded too much like Jerry Springer or Judge Judy for my taste. I probably will watch the next generation of Survivor, if only to be honest about this preaching series.)
There is another ongoing survivor event, the survivorship of genuine Christian living in an increasingly postmodern, and even hostile, anti-Christian world. People with commitment to follow Jesus Christ unreservedly are something of an endangered species. Committed disciples of Jesus sense that the world views us as dinosaurs, outdated and disconnected Neanderthal thinkers in a space-age, Internet era. I once heard the comedian George Goebel describe perfectly that sense, I feel like the whole world’s a tuxedo, and I’m a pair of brown loafers.
Do you feel that way about you living in this world? One person said it well, If you feel content in this moral darkness, you might be part of the darkness! Another wag opined, If you seldom meet Satan head-on, perhaps its because you’re going the same direction as he.
There is a truth to those negative statements. While we don’t care to dwell in the negative, the reality is glaring:
a. This is not a christian world
b. This is not a christian country
c. Thomasville is not a christian city
And so, the proposition before the house this morning:
If you are a christian committed to following christ
you will find some tough roads ahead;
…you will be in the minority;
…and the world won’t care that you don’t like it!
If you find yourself in that brown loafer category, there is some really good news for you. It is found in the book we will study this winter – The Epistle of James. This is the Christian Survival Manual. If you would be an overcomer, a survivor in this postmodern world, James has the kind of practical advice you need.
James tells us important things a Christian worldview needs; he tells us about attitudes and convictions a Christian must possess – actions we must take – if we are to be survivors in a world that is spiritually stone cold dead!