“First, there have always been desperate times in our world. By the time you and I die, we too will have a story like Don Paulson’s; we will have lived through wave after wave of spiritual upheaval and national and global uncertainty and unrest. Hopefully this thought brings comfort rather than despair. Granted, it can be disconcerting to think that there will always be tough times in our world, but it is also helpful to know that human history has always occurred against the backdrop of such times. Indeed, it is in the context of those times that truly great lives emerge.”
“Where were you when you learned Princess Diana died?”
“How did you do research before the internet?”
“Did you have a pager?”
“Do you remember preparing for Y2K?”
“What were you doing when the planes hit the twin towers?”
“Do you remember Napster?”
“Did you buy your house before or after the bubble burst?”
Usually the number of pivotal, historical moments a person has lived through can be summed up by how many answers they have to questions that begin with some variation of, “Where were you when….?” Some of my pivotal moments are above – many are humorous, but others are very somber.
As you reflect back, the moments that stand out are usually the ones that are filled with emotion – positive or negative – and became formative in some way.
In this final chapter, Chris talks about how critical it is to be aware of the context we are living in, particularly, in that it is a post-Christian era. This is very accurate, and I’ve heard many people bemoan this fact, or blame it for declining church attendance, or lower enrollment at Christian universities. Usually, it is said with a nostalgic longing for the “good old days” and wishing our culture resembled that of another time.
Maybe it’s because I’m a pessimist, but frankly, I’m glad I was born when I was. If I rolled the dice and wished to be transported to another era, I’m afraid it would be under Nero, during the Crusades, or some other dangerous and turbulent time in history. The truth is, every point in history has its challenges. Ours is living in this post-Christian era, when even my friends who don’t attend church know something about Jesus, can easily identify a cross or a rosary as a religious symbol and celebrate Christian holidays. Our culture is steeped in knowledge about Jesus. But what is sometimes lacking, is authentic Christian living that points people to the real character of Jesus. Not just knowing who He was, or calling Him a great Teacher, but knowing why He matters and what He has done for them.
It is a unique challenge, to strip away the pretense, the expensive church building, and any form of self-centered prosperity gospel, and go back to a Christ-centered message – but that is what will ultimately draw people to God.
“Although the apparent demise of Christendom in today’s Western world is cause for great alarm and dismay among many Christians and church leaders, Murray sees it as a strategic opportunity for the church to rediscover its ancient, relational, Christ-oriented posture in the world.”
As Chris points out, the cornerstone of this approach is relationship – both our authentic relationship with God and the relationships we build with others. Focusing on these two connections also allows us to remember that whatever our context is, we are not defined by it. Whatever we are going through, abiding in Him and reaching out to others can remain constant. It isn’t dependent on wealth, traditional education or a certain cultural context. It transcends all of that. And it allows us to focus on the things that matter – the things that will last.
Guest Post by Rebekah Arias