Irreducible Principles for a New Year
Scripture: Psalm 145
Contributor: John L. Yeats
We usually take for granted what we have until we don’t have it anymore. Once a great moral force in the world, the North American culture seems headed toward the trash pile of former great civilizations.
What irreducible principles guide the followers of Christ to being light in a culture growing dark?
1. We know attributes of the only true and living God (vv. 1–9).
In a pluralistic society, no one ideology takes precedence over another.
But what if the reality of the living God is not comparable to mere human ideations? Our modern ideas about God are at best pitiful.
We tend to reduce His greatness and majesty down to a few lines in a chorus. Our thinking of Him as our buddy or our copilot or our friend on the seashore is way below the dignity of the God who spoke and the world came to be.
2. The Word of God remains the standard (vv.10–13).
If we reduce the Scriptures to the ten suggestions or to simply another appreciated holy book, we miss the reality of what the Word of God is.
The Scriptures are the revealed heart of God who loves people and desires their highest good. His promises are true for all history and for all mankind.
The practice of the biblical standard is not always perfect, but cultures that embrace nonbiblical behavior as their relative standard are littered with broken relationships, disease, incest, polygamy, and horrific abuse of women.
Rejection of the Word of God for family life results in a culture paying a high, unsustainable price for their choices.
3. Jesus must be Lord of all (vv. 14–16).
In societies dominated by secular thought, the citizens are required to constantly juggle the various spheres of life irrespective of other spheres. Each sphere has its own set of individualistic moral parameters.
The irreducible Lordship of Christ principle demonstrates the integration that redemption offers (Rom. 14:7–8). This principle transforms the little “g” god of our little universe to a part of the royal family of the King of kings. Our appropriate response is to surrender to the Lord Jesus in all things.
4. The believer’s identity is secure (vv. 17–20).
In a pluralistic culture, the level of rejection is huge. You would think that classical tolerance would be normative in a pluralistic society, but that doesn’t work when major players in the culture are militant.
If we die to our own identity to live in Him, the rejections of this world may kill our bodies, but they can’t touch our mission, our purpose in life. The collapse of the culture can never stop our Great Commission purpose!
Conclusion (v. 21)
When the gods of this world begin to fall down, the populace runs toward authentic answers to escape the collapse of the culture. When the collapse comes, all we need to do is point them to Jesus and pronounce “the praise of the Lord.”
Dr. Hemphill has served as the director of the Southern Baptist Center for Church Growth and in pastoral positions in Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Dr. Hemphill has doctoral degrees from both Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Cambridge University