During the recent series on The Sermon On The Mount we were encouraged each week to consider how Jesus wanted us to take each of the topics of His sermon to another level of understanding and hopefully to change our behaviour in a positive way to reflect this.
One strand of this that has been important in my thoughts of late was reinforced in the panel discussion on 26th November when I think it was Andrew McFaul who discussed the culture that surrounds us and how it can impact upon us.
Of course we think we can, or we try to, resist this cultural pressure. We may succeed some of the time but sadly, often without realising it, we all too easily submit to it in some way or another too.
This last Sunday; 3rd December we began our worship and praise time singing the wonderful truth packed song by Jesus Culture ‘Alive in You’. The third and fourth line of the song immediately struck me:
This whole world may hold me down
But it can never drown You out.
My first reaction was to think “that’s not right; this world is not holding me down”, but the Lord swiftly corrected me and brought back thoughts on our recent series and many other discussions I’ve had over recent weeks about the hugely negative effect culture is having on the Body of Christ and how it is invading parts of His church.
But it can never drown Him out. His truth is still the truth, His hope is still our only real hope, His unconditional love is still unconditional love no matter what we’ve done and His Salvation is still free to any who come to Him, believe in Him and follow Him.
The song continued as I contemplated what the Lord was saying
You are God, You’re the Great “I Am”
Breath of life I breathe You in
Even in the fire, I’m alive in You!
You are strong in my brokenness
Sovereign over every step
Even in the fire, I’m alive
I’m alive in You!
As I heard the words “Even in the fire, I’m alive in You” I thought of the story of Daniel. Here was a young man who having been carted off to Babylon, immersed in a totally alien, ungodly culture would not turn away from God. He was chosen, re-educated, groomed, favoured, some would say pampered, promoted, and then commanded to bow down and submit to the new culture, new kings and new gods but he would not. Instead he went up to his room flung one his windows and praised God. He didn’t do this in secret either, he was brazen about it. Threats didn’t trouble him He just kept pressing in to God, even facing the fiery furnace with one king and then later the lion’s den with another.
Forgive me for not bringing this word to you all during the service. I had wrestled at the time as to whether it was to be shared and as each of the others who contributed came forward it all fitted together:
Terry read Habakuk 3:17-19
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
Vanessa and Phil each reinforced the sentiment of what God is saying and Liz brought us the beautiful picture of young Gideon clinging to the cross. We all need to cling to the cross as we say no to the culture of this world as it attempts to hold us down, no to everything that comes against us and YES to everything God has for us and YES LORD despite our circumstances.
Then Pastor Rob Cooper of William Street Church brought a wonderful message of how Mary faced so many difficult and painful challenges living in the favour, blessing and purpose of our great God.
As the world tries to hold us down resist!
Like Daniel we can stand firm in the truth of God’s word. Like Mary we can say: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Like Habakuk, we can rejoice in the Lord and take joy in the God of our salvation whatever our circumstances. Like little Gideon we need to cling to the cross.