The thoughts and sermon clips contained in this post may not, on the surface, seem particularly cheering or comforting in the wake of our commander-in-chief’s reelection last night. They may even strike some as grim or despairing. However, I submit that “grim” is one thing, but despairing is another. Truth is often harsh and grim. But we are commanded never to despair. For out of the ashes, beauty rises. And out of great evil comes great glory.
I’ll start with a fairly short, but popular clip from Matt Chandler: “Following God May End Badly.” Chandler is an excellent communicator, and I’ve benefited a lot from listening to his sermons. He’s one of the few really good young-ish evangelical pastors out there (I guess he’s 35 or so, but let’s just say Piper’s got a few years on him). I really like his direct approach. It’s like Mark Driscoll minus the foul talk, pornographic visions, and tin-plated-swaggering-dictator-with-delusions-of-godhood-itis. In this particular clip, he offers to “unpack the gospel,” pulling no punches in the process. I should also add that Chandler can personally speak to what it means to walk through suffering, having battled brain cancer (though I’m not entirely sure whether this sermon was given before or after that time period).
“The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not that if you follow him, everything is going to go well…The gospel of Jesus Christ is that you get HIM!”
Next, an astounding and sobering prophetic word from Paul Washer. When I first watched this, I was floored. I mean he nailed everything. Particularly heart-stopping is his simple explanation of why we are losing the next generation of Christian young people. “You fed them, right into the devil’s mouth.” He’s speaking of public schools and universities, which have now become little more than breeding grounds for liberal indoctrination. He also predicts the coming persecution of the Church. And yet, equally powerfully, he commands us to look forward to the prize set before us. Once again, like Chandler addresses, we see the theme of losing everything, yet gaining everything.
“Know this: Persecution is always meant for evil, but God always means it for good. And is it not better to suffer in this life to have an extra weight of glory in heaven?”
I thought I would close with a snippet from a message by Jim Caviezel. It’s especially remarkable because even though he’s not a pastor, and not even known for being a particularly forceful speaker, the Spirit moved him to speak with an amazing clarity and passion in this message. There were several points where he really got on a roll, and I think the best segment comes about half-way through. It’s only five minutes long, but it’s a very potent, very hard-hitting five minutes. It comes shortly after they had played a clip from the crucifixion scene in The Passion. After describing what was going through his mind during that scene, Caviezel began to talk about his disappointment that willingness to sacrifice has been replaced by desire to please the world among modern-day Christians. He powerfully adjures his fellow brothers and sisters in the faith to set themselves apart and choose to be holy, following the example set by saints and martyrs who have gone before.
He really doesn’t waste a minute. At one point, he quotes these excellent words from Pope John Paul II: “Democracy cannot be sustained without a shared commitment to certain moral truths about the human person and the human community. The basic question before a democratic society is, how ought we to live together? And seeking an answer to this question, can society exclude moral truth and moral reasoning? …Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom exists, not to do what you like, but having the right to do what you ought.” Of Caviezel’s own words, this stood out to me: “You’ll either get a chance to lay it down for Jesus, or you’ll get to deny him.”
The hymn from which I took the title of this post is “Am I A Soldier of the Cross?” It seems fitting to close with the final verse:
Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They view the triumph from afar,
And seize it with their eye.