What the World Needs Now
June 7, 2020
Thursday morning I went for a run as I normally do on that day. I woke up particularly early, so I grabbed my headlamp to guide my way. It was somewhat warm and humid so I was a little tired on the run. A little more than half a mile from my finish my headlamp revealed a small cat off to the side, running toward me. In about five paces his path and mine would cross at the same spot on the sidewalk. “That’s unusual,” I thought. “I’ve never seen a cat here previously.” Then I noticed that his tail was unusually broad. And he had a white stripe down his back. In that instant I recognized he was no cat, but a cousin to Pepe Le Pew. Though tired, I had a sudden burst of energy and sprinted for about 75 yards, not wanting to experience what might happen when our paths crossed. A crisis narrowly averted.
After I got home, I got cleaned up and dressed for the day, and was just headed to put on my shoes when I heard our back door open and Raye Jeanne shout, “Snake!” “Let me grab my boots!…” And then I ran out the back door to see our dog shaking her head vigorously with something clenched in her mouth. From the door I couldn’t see it, but I immediately thought of the 2-inch diameter copperhead Raye Jeanne killed in our yard about two weeks ago. Raye Jeanne had her boots and a shovel and was yelling to the dog, “No…Drop it!” And then we saw it was not a snake, but a badly shaken and bruised possum. We scooped it up and disposed of it, and I said to Raye Jeanne, “It’s like Wild Kingdom around here! You never know where the next adventure or attack will come from…”
It feels like that in our culture, doesn’t it? We know that the earth cannot spin off its axis, but it feels like it spun off its moral axis long ago. Just a few examples:
- In seminary, the word “homosexual” was hardly spoken; something like homosexual “marriage” or all the other deviant kinds of sexual behavior that are following it were genuinely unimaginable.
- Abortion, murder, drug use, enslavement to all manner of vices, laziness that is corrupting the work force, entitlement, personal and national debt, and more are massive and growing social ills.
- In February I came back from overseas and was hearing more about this virus in China; within weeks the problems of the COVID-19 virus hit our shores and became more than just the grief of an uncontrollable disease and the consequent death — the great grief is the interpersonal conflict, political fighting, and many evidences of lack of kindness that it has revealed in our world.
- The death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and riots are tragic on so many levels. It feels like our country is being torn apart from the inside out — with ethnic hatred and rebellion against authority leading the way.
- I can’t remember the exact statement, but several years ago, John Piper said something like, “If we could see every circumstance of suffering, sin, and brokenness in the world in even a single moment of time (as God sees it), we could not endure it — the grief would be crushing to us. I believe that.
I think my response to the last two weeks particularly might be the same as many of you — “come, Lord Jesus!” We know that we are closer to His return today than at any other time in history, but we still don’t know when that day of return will be. It might be in our lifetimes. It might not be. It might be this week. It might not be for another decade, or century, or millennium.
Until He comes, what do we do? How do we respond to all the social ills of our world? What does the world need now, that we can give them? In one sense we can answer that question with one word (gospel). In another sense, we can’t give a full answer in one sermon, never mind one tweet (as too many are attempting to do). But we can find some of the basics of what the world needs now in Paul’s letters to the Ephesians. In those letters, we learn what the world needs now —
What the world needs now is for us to be what God made us to be.
This morning we will learn five provisions from God, for us in our ministry to the world. This is (part of) what the world needs now —
- The World Needs Us to be Careful (Eph. 5:15)
- The World Needs Us to Take Advantage (Eph. 5:16)
- The World Needs Us to Understand (Eph. 5:17)
- The World Needs Us to Pray and Proclaim (Eph. 6:18)
- The World Needs Us to be Hopeful (2 Tim. 4:18)
Download the rest of this sermon on ministry to a broken world.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.