But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.
I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only. Psalm 71.14-16
An open door?
From Ephesus, the apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Corinth to encourage them in their calling to the Kingdom and glory of God. He wanted to make a return visit, but he could not at the time of his writing. The reason? “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16.9).
Are we as believers looking at an open door for evangelizing? Is it possible that we don’t recognize the opportunity that is opening before us? What does an open door for the proclamation of the Gospel look like?
In his book Pagans & Christians in the City, Steve Smith explains that the progressive political, cultural, and moral agenda that has seized the bully pulpits and power centers of American life is actually a form of old Roman paganism. It is a religion in which the object of devotion is the self, and the goal of life is self-satisfaction. Smith demonstrates – from leading thinkers within the progressive movement – that this false religion cannot fulfill its promise. It will create a disappointment vacuum and a transcendence letdown that will leave multitudes looking for something more.
That sounds like an open door for the Gospel, no?
From Paul’s experience we might say that wherever “many adversaries” to the Gospel are present, that must be an open door. Elements in our society are becoming increasingly hostile to all things Christian. They’ve been shutting believers out of the public square for years, and over the course of the previous year, they managed to shut us out of our churches. What are they planning to do next to cow us into silence and submissiveness?
It’s clear to many that we are being presented with an open door for evangelism in our day. The question is whether the people of God will open their hearts to the challenge, and whether their leaders will urge, equip, and encourage them in the opportunity.
Resources for Shepherds
Paul says we must do everything for the glory of God. But what is the glory of God? We are called to it (1 Thess. 2.12), and everything we do should demonstrate it (1 Cor. 10.31). We really ought to make sure we know what it is.
Another indication that passionate feeling has supplanted the role of careful thinking in our day is the demise of the public intellectual, those persons with ideas that change the course of history. Aren’t we as Christians supposed to be taking every thought captive for obedience to Jesus (2 Cor. 10.3-5)?
Art, science, and philosophy: Are these the only proper place for imagination? Imagination is a community activity. Should we as Christians invest more effort in this discipline?
Can art change your life? If so, shouldn’t we as Christians, following the example of our forebears, make more use of art in disciple-making?
Is making and using culture a question only for artists, writers, academics, and rich people? Or should all God’s people understand the power of culture, and how to use if for the glory of God? Are you equipping the people you serve to take their place on the front lines of the culture wars?
From the Celtic Revival
But after I to Ireland came I found
myself a slave, and pastured sheep around
the hills and meadows in the west. You can
imagine my despair, my sorrow, and
my loneliness, a boy of sixteen years.
My days were filled with toil, my nights with fears.
And so I turned to prayer to find relief
in God, although I had not made belief
my firm conviction as of yet. I prayed
throughout the day, and many times I stayed
awake, beseeching God to pity me.
I found the love and fear of God to be
advancing in my soul; my faith began
to grow, and I began to understand
that God was working in my spirit. I
would pray a hundred times each day, and by
the light of moon and stars, as often, too.
I found through prayer a pleasant means to do
my work without complaint or fear, and would
remain out on the mountain and in the woods
through snow or frost or rain. I rose to pray
before the morning light appeared each day,
and suffered no adversity, nor was
I sluggish in my work. It was because
the Spirit of the living God was in
me seething, freeing me from fear and sin.
- Patrick, Confession (5th century)
For what sort of training is there that is without the sorrow of chastisement? How much grief or sorrow lies in the craftsmen’s trades? How much toil? How much labour awaits those that ply a craft or even build? With how many blows, with what pains are musicians’ pupils taught?... But if, then, such and so many pains are borne untiringly for temporal and unsure rewards, what ought we to endure for eternal, true and sure ones, whose conclusion is eternal?
- Columbanus, Sermon IV: On Discipline
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All Psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter.
 Walker, pp. 79ff