Resting on God's Unchanging Grace in a Culture That is Always Changing
Reaching the half-century mark in life truly is a milestone. I am grateful God has kept me these many days. God truly knows I’ve pulled more than one stunt that could have placed me in His presence sooner than now. Our days are undoubtedly numbered, and by His merciful hand, I’m still here. (Psalm 139:16)
This World is Changing
In recent days, I have found it interesting the changes I have seen take place in our culture. That cartoon, The Jetsons, I used to enjoy while slurping down a bowl of sugary cereal as a young girl is now more like reality than fantasy. This 80’s mall rat no longer goes to a mall to buy what I “need.” No, I now buy it from the comfort of my home and wait for it to arrive at my doorstep within 24 hours. I am also at the age where it is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with the latest technology, as hard as I may try. Change is inevitable.
There is another change I have been observing some months now, rather, more like a shift. I passed a public restroom in our virtually obsolete mall. The sign outside the door said “all gender” restroom. The days of going to the ” little girls’ room” are a thing of the past. It wasn’t the first all gender restroom I had seen, but this particular observation was leading to one of those mental convergences.
Two Days Later
I was watching the movie “Hidden Figures,” where Hollywood portrays the struggles black women encountered during segregation while working at NASA. Although the half-mile trek Kathryn had to take several times daily to use the “colored women’s” restroom was exaggerated in the film (see here), I wanted to stand and applaud in my den as Kevin Costner tore down the sign from the wall with a sledge hammer. It was there the mental convergence took place.
I was unable to stop thinking of my restroom experience just a couple of days earlier. In five decades we have allowed even our public bathroom experiences in the U.S. to expose our deceived hearts by going from deep-seated hatred to a pseudo-tolerance. We have traveled in time from“don’t let your black skin touch my commode or water fountain” to “you decide which restroom you use, regardless your gender.” I truly find Satan’s lack of creativity in the whole scheme quite revealing of his character. Crafty, yes. Creative, no. This is just another example of there being nothing new under the sun.
Imago Dei is simply Latin for “image of God.” The world has allowed the pendulum to swing from one extreme to the other, but make no mistake; both extremes start from a flawed view of God. Thus, man’s understanding of Imago Dei is also flawed; blowing in the wind of sinful thinking and deception.
What God says about Imago Dei:
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. ~Gen 1:27
How the Imago Dei Responds:
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. ~Romans 1:19-23
It only makes sense that the scheme of the Evil One would work tirelessly to feign the image of God by attacking the thinking of His image bearers so blatantly. Oh, this is not new. Was this not what the Holocaust was about? We continue to see it in Evolution and in Abortion as well.
It goes back even further. It goes back to the Garden of Eden. The fall began when God’s creation questioned Him; His design, and His authority. Throw our post-fall flawed hearts on top, and BAM! We have a recipe for…
Do not misunderstand me. For the unbeliever, there is no hope:
"For what is the hope of the godless when he is cut off, When God requires his life? Job 27:8
But as a child of God, believing the gospel, I have immense hope. God’s plan was settled in eternity past; long before the fall. Neither man nor Satan can do anything to thwart it.
When Darkness Seems to Hide His Face
My observation of “bathroom history” is just one historical shift that reminds me of where I, as a child of the King, must place my hope. You see there is an unchanging, not-so-Hidden-Figure that has come to bring us lasting hope in the midst of all the changes we see taking place in our broken world. This hope is a person. His name is Jesus Christ, the son of the living, unchanging God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:14
When we see these shifts, we, too, must shift. Not as the world shifts. Not from God. Our gaze must shift from the world and stay on the unchanging character of Christ and His Father who keeps us from falling:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~Hebrews 13:8
For I the Lord do not change… ~Malachi 3:6
…with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. ~James 1:17
When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil!
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Edward Mote, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less
A Changing Christian in a Changing World
We can know His unchanging love is transforming us into something more glorious than the images Satan is trying to portray in his rule.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. ~2 Corinthians 3:18
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. ~Psalm 138:8
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. ~Philippians 1:6
So, when we face these cultural shifts that could rock our hearts to the core, we need to practically think through our response.
Practical Ways to Live Hopefully in Changing Times
Pray. Pray again. Then, pray some more! Yes, pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)! When we observe these shifts taking place, pray for our fellow image bearers to have the scales removed from their eyes and hearts to see our Unchanging God. Pray we would remain steadfast, immovable in these changing times. Pray for your missionaries. And yes, pray for the Lord’s return!
Please proclaim the truth of the Word! Be under teaching that is not ashamed of the Gospel. Support your Pastor in every way possible to be a man of the Word. The things we are seeing in the world were told to us long ago:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. ~2 Timothy 4:3-4
Practice being like Paul, an imitator of Christ. Paul says more than once in Scripture to imitate him. Could you tell someone to imitate you? Display the image of our good God in your good deeds. Talk to believers and unbelievers about their Creator! Point Him out in all you say and do. Reflect his glory. Share your Hope with others!
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. ~1 Corinthians 11:1
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. ~Ephesians 2:10
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. ~1 Corinthians 15:58
Praise and Purify
Oh, Praise the Lord that we are His children! We are different from the world! These cultural shifts don’t have to make us waver. Rather, this hope should motivate us to continue in the pursuit of holiness. We get to participate in the sanctification process! This process helps us stay fixed on Him until he actually returns for us.
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us… And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. ~1 John 3:1-3
One day, this world will be destroyed. Kevin Costner’s little “reno project” in the movie doesn’t have anything on what Jesus is going to do to this world! Praise God we will someday reside in the new heaven and new earth where all nations will come together to eternally glorify God! We will no longer be deceived about who we are, and our Imago Dei will be restored to appear completely like Christ! But until then, keep living in hope of that new day!
Who will you offer Hope to today?