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Chaplain-in-Chief's January Sermon

A New Year's Meditation

2018 and a Changing World

Read Mark 6:14-16


            Perhaps you heard the story of the little lady who came home from church one Sunday evening and found an intruder inside. She was overcome with fear and the only thing that she could think to do was to quote Scripture. She cried at the top of her lungs, “Acts 2:38. Acts 2:38. ‘Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins’ Acts 2:28.”


            Hearing those words the intruder immediately stopped and placed his hands in the air. He promised the little lady that he would not move while she called the police.


            When the police arrived they asked why he had given up so easily. All the lady had done was quote Scripture. To which the intruder said, “She did more than that. She said that she had an ax and two 38s.”


            Certainly there are times when we do not always hear clearly or interpret correctly. However we find just the opposite in our Scripture passage. Mark wrote of people who did hear and who did understand and who did respond. Mark proclaimed that the name of Jesus “had become well known” (Mark 6:14).


            Today we face the challenges of a new year. It seems that it can no longer be said that the name of Jesus is well known. We are now faced with a different culture. Of course, it has not always been as it is now. Historically the name of Jesus has been important.


I. Past Foundations


            The first colleges in America (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, William & Mary) were founded by churches for the purpose of Christian education.


            In 1743 the president of Yale stated that the purpose of a Yale education was to obtain “the clearest conceptions of divine things and to lead (the student) to a saving knowledge of God in His Son Jesus Christ.” The Yale College Laws said, “Every student shall consider the main end of his study ... to know God in Jesus Christ and ... to lead a godly, sober life.”


            But things, they are a changing.


            The first school teachers were ministers. The first school buildings were often churches. The first textbooks were the Bible, the Catechism and moral concepts.


            But things, they are a changing.


            A few weeks ago I watched a re-run of the many-years-ago-popular-show, Leave it to Beaver. The show revolved around the Christmas pageant at the government school. In the pageant were the wise men, the shepherds, angels, Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, and the singing of Christmas carols.


            But things, they are a changing.


We must now face


II. Present Failures


            Some time back on the morning show Fox and Friends I listened to Franklin Graham, son of Evangelist Billy Graham. Mr. Graham said, “We live in a society that wants to eliminate God. There is no Bible reading or prayer in our government schools. Some would remove the words ‘Under God’ from the pledge of allegiance and the words ‘In God we Trust’ from our currency.”


            Things, they are a changing.


          We see a generation of children and young people raised without God. I spoke with a young man just a couple of months ago who had never been in a church, never owned a Bible, and never read a Bible verse.


            The sad reality is that there are people within the shadow of this church and every church in town and yet they do not come. They know were the church is. They know they would be welcomed. They just do not come.


            I spoke with a young couple some time back who told me that the only time they go to church is when they are visiting their grandparents. They do it to show respect to grandpa and grandma, not because there is anything in the church that has importance to them. We live in the age of the “graying of the church.” Where are the young adults?


            Things, they are a changing. We are now faced with


III. Powerful Challenges


            We live in what sociologists call the post-Christian era. There are more people who do not attend church than do attend. It can no longer be assumed that people know about church, or Jesus, or the God of the Bible. The sad reality is, they do not!


            We actually find ourselves in the same type of culture faced by the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts. We live in a pagan society. The mission field is no longer Africa, China, Asia, or the islands of the sea. The mission field is next door ... across the street ... down the block ... our neighborhood ... our city ... our state ... our nation.


            We must now face the reality that we are on mission for Christ. We are missionaries. We have a culture to reach with the gospel. It is not 1959 anymore. The Leave it to Beaver culture is gone. Things, they are a changing.


            We must make Jesus known in our society, a society that does not know Him. We have the old, old story that never changes. Now we must proclaim that story in a new world system – a world system that does not know the Jesus of the Bible. We must educate our world by life and by lip in regard to the wonder of Christ. We must minister to our pagan culture with the eternal truths of the Word of God. This is a challenging task, but this is the task that God has given us to do now. We have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.


I would love to tell you

what I think of Jesus

Since I found in Him a friend

so strong and true;

I would tell you how

He changed my life completely –

He did something that

no other friend could do.

No one ever cared for me, like Jesus,

There’s no other friend so kind as He;

No one else could take the sin and darkness from me –

O how much He cared for me.