A Strategy for the Times
(Reading time: 14 minutes)
In America and around the world, we’re seeing increasing problems in almost every part of life — the environment, society, national economy, politics, terrorism, wars, and religious conflicts. But we have nothing to fear as long as we focus our attention on God and obey him. If we continue to think as the world does and share the world’s values, we’ll suffer like everyone else. But if we transform our minds — our attitudes, standards, priorities, values — we’ll see God’s glory and share its benefits. Perspective is the key. If we focus on the troubles, we’ll be dismayed and feel hopeless. But if we know his voice and follow him, we’ll be safe in his care, without fear and confident in him.
Don’t be afraid. We must turn to him for everything, live in complete dependence on him, and conform ourselves to his nature and ways. Then it really doesn’t matter what the future brings because he’ll provide everything we need.
Following is a recommended strategy.
Become Christlike, know God and his ways, have his perspective.
Become Christlike: While making physical preparations may seem reasonable and prudent, that’s unimportant compared to becoming like Jesus. He is the Christ, the Son of God who became a man with three specific missions: (1) to live a sinless life as a man, setting an example for us to follow; (2) to destroy the enemy’s works, again setting an example for us to follow; and (3) to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice for all of mankind’s sin that we might be free from bondage to sin. When we accept his sacrifice for our sin, we take the first step toward becoming like him. Scripture calls him the firstborn of many, which means he is our prototype or model. Becoming Christlike, or like him, means we must commit ourselves to making every aspect of our thinking — our thoughts, values, standards, priorities, everything — conform to God’s Word. This is true repentance, which literally means transforming our minds or changing the way we think. As we repent, God does the work in us that actually transforms us, then our behavior changes as a result. God makes us like his Son as we submit ourselves to his redemptive process.
Know God and his ways: Being a Christian is having a genuine, loving relationship with God. Because of that relationship, we’ll want to serve him, to please him, to learn more about him and his ways; but those will be results of our relationship, not substitutes for it. God has made it possible for us to know him intimately, one-on-one, and he constantly invites us to move closer to him. As we do, we’ll discover he’s our loving Father, who constantly gives us new insight to his nature, cares for us, and longs to have us by his side. We’ll begin to see the many ways he enables us to face life’s challenges, and become spiritually strong and mature. We’ll see that he is absolutely good.
Have his perspective: Everything God created was perfect, then Satan corrupted mankind and all of creation with sin, causing everything on earth to oppose God’s will. When Jesus died on the cross, he defeated Satan, releasing us from the law of sin and death. Those of us who accept Jesus’ sacrifice in faith become children of God and citizens of his kingdom. With God’s help, we are becoming increasingly like him, engaging in his work and serving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. His work includes sharing the good news of the gospel to those enslaved to sin, healing those who are sick or diseased, freeing those bound by the enemy, countering ungodly attitudes and behavior with godliness; in general, destroying the enemy’s works. That is our task until the Lord returns to establish his righteous kingdom on earth.
Biblical foundation for radical change
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Rom. 8:29, NIV).
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2).
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24).
Become an active citizen, present God and his kingdom, have his heart for people, be like salt and light.
Become an active citizen: Most problems in our nation are spiritual in origin, not political or cultural, but we can’t ignore the responsibilities that come with the privilege of being citizens of this great nation. We must use our civic rights as American citizens to influence our government’s laws and policies by voting, petitioning our representatives, holding public office, and such. Pray for our government — the President, elected representatives, officials at every level, and their staffs. Pray that they would receive the wisdom and skills they need; they would be safe from those who would harm them; they would receive righteous counsel, dreams, and revelation; and they would serve our nation according to God’s will. Then contact them, tell them we’re praying for them, and ask them to support our position.
Present God and his kingdom: Christianity isn’t a spectator event; rather, it’s an active relationship with the living God and includes actively influencing our world as his representatives and members of the body of Christ. We are Christ’s ambassadors, delivering his message of forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
Have his heart for people: God created every human being in his image and sent his Son Jesus to die for all of humanity’s sins. This shows the value God places on every person, regardless of their spiritual condition. When we honor people, we honor their Creator. When we protect and care for those in need, we honor God’s love for them and share his heart.
Be like salt: Simply living an exemplary life as a silent witness is inadequate. We’re to be salt in this world by aggressively overcoming the decay caused by sin. Identify and pray against spiritual forces or beings that are creating problems in our nation. Salt also improves flavor, so we also improve the nature of our culture.
Be like light: We are the light of this world, so it’s our responsibility to expel the darkness of evil. When we offer the good news of the gospel to people, we honor the sacrifice Jesus made for them. Just as light exposes what hides in darkness, we also must identify and expose the ungodliness affecting our nation.
Biblical foundation for being actively involved
“You are the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13).
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:19-20).
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17).
Get your finances in order, make emergency preparations, surround yourself with spiritual family.
Get your finances in order: If you have more on your credit cards than you’re able to pay off each month or have a second mortgage on your home, you’re overextended financially and vulnerable to national economic problems. Beginning immediately (and in this order), you need to pay your tithes, get your spending below your income, sell what you don’t absolutely need, start being generous to others, and pay off that debt. The more progress you make now, the less trouble you’ll have later. Banks likely will close temporarily due to panic withdrawals or electronic fund transfer failures, which also could shut down credit card systems, so it would be wise to have a significant amount of cash on-hand.
Make emergency preparations: Any time the public becomes afraid, grocery store shelves empty immediately and even a temporary disruption to our food supplies can cause extended shortages. Start stocking up now on food and other items you use frequently, buying additional items when you shop, especially if they’re on sale. It would be wise to have enough canned and dry goods to last at least two weeks; preferably four weeks or more. Once you have enough food and supplies for a few weeks, see “Resources” (below) for more recommendations and prayerfully consider what preparations you should make. We consider insurance, a spare tire in our car, or a fire extinguisher in our home to be prudent measures and are everyday forms of emergency preparedness — preparing for possible future needs. This isn’t about hoarding or fear. This is about making sure we take reasonable precautions to provide for the ones in our care, including others we may be able to help if conditions get bad. However we prepare, we must make sure our trust is in the Lord, not our preparations.
Using common sense is not the opposite of trusting God, unless we trust our own reasoning and ignore what he tells us. If we were to see everything from his perspective, we’d realize that everything he tells us makes perfect sense. Pray about whether you should prepare and what preparations you should make. Some would argue that preparations are motivated by fear, that real trust mandates we do nothing other than allow God to provide everything we need. However, I would suggest that using the insight, intelligence, and decision-making ability God gave us is an expression of our godlike nature. If God specifically tells you not to prepare, then don’t prepare; otherwise, follow the scriptural example of preparing for future needs.
Surround yourself with spiritual family: Other Christians are our spiritual family and their strength, encouragement, and prayers are invaluable. Spiritually mature believers can help us know whether we’re hearing from God and how we should respond. We also can see what other mature Christians are doing, which can help us decide what we should do. It would be foolish to think we can face the future alone. Surrounding ourselves with a community of like-minded and mature Christians — the Body of Christ — will make the difference between failure and fulfilling our destiny in challenging times.
Biblical foundation for common sense preparations
Jesus told the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25), in which only half of them had enough supplies. He called the unprepared ones “foolish.” The theme of the parable is being ready for the Lord’s return, but he used physical preparations as an analogy. In Luke 14:28-32, he first used the analogy of someone building a tower then of a king preparing for war, and in both cases he pointed out the importance of carefully planning ahead. In Matthew 24:43, he referred to someone keeping watch over his house, being prepared in case a thief tries to break in. The story of Joseph stockpiling grain in Egypt in preparation for a famine also shows the wisdom of emergency preparedness (Gen 41:28-36). These all support common sense preparation for what one thinks is likely to happen or gathering in advance what he likely will need.
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty” (Prov. 22:3).
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:10, emphasis added).
The Body of Christ, the family of believers “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16).
The following are a few of the many resources available. We offer this list only for your information, without implying any endorsement. Pray for wisdom and prepare without fear.
- Family & household preparations
- Household food & supplies
- Business emergency preparation
- Emergency response
- CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) preparedness info and training to serve your family and community; find CERT councils by ZIP code. This is excellent training for personal preparedness, even if you don’t participate in CERT.
Expect God to show you what to do, use you and your preparations to help others, care for you regardless of circumstances, and take you home when your work here is complete.
Expect God to show you what to do: The Scriptures and recommendations under “Prepare” (above) clearly show that God expects us to prepare for what we think will happen. Obviously, we don’t have unlimited resources, but God knows every detail of what we’ll face in the future and will show us what to do. Trust him for the wisdom you need and if he gives you specific instructions, make sure you do exactly what he says. If you don’t sense anything specific from him, use the wisdom he gave you.
Expect God to use you and your preparations to help others: The world says we should take care of ourselves and even protect our resources from others. God’s nature, in contrast, is to give generously to anyone in need. As Christians, we are God’s representatives to the world so we should properly represent his nature, his purpose, and his ways. As we represent him faithfully and offer what we have to others, we can expect God to give us wisdom, grace, and everything else we need. Don’t be surprised if he literally multiplies your resources to provide for more people than you can imagine. In fact, expect him to do so, but keep being generous even if he doesn’t multiply them.
Expect God to care for you regardless of circumstances: Because we have a covenant relationship with God, it’s our responsibility to serve him, and his responsibility to care for us; we do our part and he does his. When we’ve done what we can, he will honor our preparations and do what we cannot.
Expect God to take you home when your work here is complete: God is our loving Father and he longs for us to be with him, but he wants us to remain here until we’ve finished what he wants us to do in life; that is, until we’ve fulfilled our destiny. Because he is God Almighty, we can trust him with our life, to care for us until he says it’s time for us to go home.
Biblical foundation for trusting God
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:25-34).
Remember the stories about Jesus feeding 5000 men plus women and children with a boy’s lunch (Matt. 14:14-21) and 4000 men plus women and children with a small amount of food (Matt. 15:32-38)? Be ready to offer what you have to those who need it and watch God multiply it. One reason we’re here as believers is to display God’s love to a hurting world. Jesus said that by providing food, drink, shelter, clothes, and care for those in need — especially other believers (“one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine”) — we do it to him (Matt. 25:34-40). So get ready to serve others, then watch him meet their needs through you.
God is withdrawing his protection and blessing from America temporarily, but we have nothing to fear if we focus our attention on him and prepare ourselves. This article presents a biblical preparation strategy that will help us serve God more effectively by helping those in need.