A COMMON FUTURE
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[This lesson was presented by 2 people.]
Notes of David Chadwell
In Acts, you can tell by the content of the sermon who the audience is.
In Acts, God is always the partner -- nothing is the result of a purely human achievement.
Who knows where we will go in the future?
The destination will be good if we respond well to three questions.
- Will we listen to God?
- Not as easily done as most think.
- How will we treat people?
- Will we treat other people godly?
- God always placed great emphasis on how His people treated others.
- How will we react when we have problems?
- How will we solve our problems?
- Nothing declares godliness more eloquently than how we treat each other as we solve problems -- and we will have problems.
Our lives may write a sentence in the history of this congregation.
Rarely will a life write a paragraph. And never a whole chapter.
What will your life write?
Notes of Chris Benjamin
Golf in the Year 2000, is a novel by J. McCullough written in 1892. It tells the story of Alexander J. Gibson, who falls into a deep sleep in the year 1892 and awakens in the year 2000.
The plot follows Gibson as he is introduced to the wonders of the dawning 21st century by his host, the current owner of the house where Gibson lay sleeping for 108 years. There are golf clubs that automatically keep their user's score, driverless golf caddies or carts, and special jackets, which everyone must wear, that yell "Fore!" whenever the player begins his swing.
Modern readers are fascinated by the many startlingly accurate "predictions" contained in Golf in the Year 2000. These include bullet trains, digital watches, and television (although those specific terms are not used).
One of the novel's "predictions" is the liberation of women. In the book, women have achieved substantial equality with men, but with some remaining and new differences. Gibson learns that the women of 2000 dress like men, hold key positions in business and government and in fact do almost all of the work... while the men play golf full time. In the view of the fictional narrator, this is a true utopia, though he does not find 21st century females (not "women") to his liking. – [Source: Wikipedia Entry]
What will the world be like in 2033?
- It’s a Small World After All -- Already we see how the US and world economies are tied together. Politics are also tied together closer than ever. Events in the Middle East and China shape our lives here in very personal ways – gas prices, reservists called into duty are just some examples.
- One of the implications of this is that categories such as foreign and domestic will not make sense in 2033. UA Fort Smith is working to create partnerships with Japan and China. The world just got smaller.
- William Carey is named as the father of modern missions. He was an English cobbler who was so fascinated by James Cook’s travels to Polynesia that he wanted to take the Christian faith to “the heathen.” That was 1792. Now, in 2008 we might ask “Who’s the heathen?” And are we supposed to “go” into all of the world or is the world right here?
- In the 1980’s the vision of West-Ark was to see the world around us because of the Laotian congregation. Tom and Lou Porter’s mission field was here. Already we see terms like domestic and foreign fading in meaning. Likewise in 2002 when the Iglesia de Cristo was planted in Fort Smith.
- Will there be some major event that will change the world between now and 2033? In the last 25 years we experienced the fall of Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and 9-11. How will we respond as God’s people? Whose interests will we support?
- Nothing in Common – What defines this generation? Nothing in particular. That’s why they are called Mosaics. In 2033 the people who will be about my age will not have many common experiences.
- George Barna defined Mosaic Generation as those born between 1984 and 2002.
- Some describe this group as "comfortable with contradiction," "post-modern" and exhibiting "non-linear" thinking.
- Barna said society has taught Mosaics to think in this different way through fast-edit videos, constant computer use and easy access video games. In addition, 91 percent of all Mosaics, compared to 51 percent of all adults, use the Internet, where they absorb information and build relationships. (Source)
- With the advancement of technology and the availability of media via the internet, TV, radio, cell phones, PDAs, or MP3 players, Mosaics have minute-by-minute information at their finger tips. Fears of a classmate not showing up due to, not sickness, but rather being shot and killed the night before is all too real a possibility for Mosaics. (Source)
- They are an extremely realistic generation. That’s good. There’s less pretense and more concern for what truly matters. When people learn to cope with such rapid change, instant information, and sudden tragedy, they might become impatient, unsympathetic, or misunderstanding of our lack of realism.
- Relationships mean everything – but relationships are built differently. Belonging has changed.
- Ethics are compartmentalized. One set for work, one set for home, one for faith.
- The 411 - How we gather information will change. Not sure how, but it will. Live feeds. Constant feeds.
- The nature of storytelling and communication is changing
- Post-literate society is a society wherein multimedia technology has advanced to the point where literacy, the ability to read written words, is no longer necessary
- So how will we read the Bible?
- We haven’t always read the Bible the same way ...
- Early Christians were often illiterate. Hearing was more important than reading. Faith comes by hearing! Not reading.
- Acts 8 – that scroll that the eunuch was reading was expensive. It wasn’t common.
- Oral tradition kept the stories of faith alive.
- Major changes in the 15th century with the invention of the printing press. Technology changes the way we communicate.
- Now we have copies of scripture. We have an emphasis on accuracy and word studies. The word is a written event rather than a spoken event
- In America, the word is regarded as a “constitution,” a body of statement that we read flatly. That’s a very modernist view. Very rational and scientific.
- Now we communicate with images and symbol, but also with sound. We can print easier than ever, but people don’t read like they used to.
- And the Word isn’t regarded as a constitution. It isn’t flat. It has multiple terrains. It is more than one genre.
- Spoken, written, read or symbolized – the word of God has always been a living word. Active!
- Authority of word will depend on authenticity of those who live it.
Communication – Symbol or word, communication is still critical. God didn’t always communicate to us through words. He used symbols. He came in the flesh.
- Technology influences the way we communicate and the way we form community
- Faith in the Future - The 21st century may be the most spiritual century ever.
- Spirituality is not the same as Christianity.
- Christianity is not the same as Christendom – Christian politics and territory. Churches of Christ have understood this better than anyone – we’ve been apolitical and apocalyptic and we need to hold on to this because it will help us in the future.
Why will the 21st century be so spiritual? As people lose hope in broken, worldly institutions they will be seeking something more. Something meaningful and bigger than ourselves.
- Thus we dare not become more institutional
- Resources: UnChristian and Revolutionaries. (See Barna Group) Half of young churchgoers said they perceive Christianity to be judgmental, hypocritical, and too political. One-third said it was old-fashioned and out of touch with reality. A common concern among Christians and non-Christians = “Christianity in today’s society no longer looks like Jesus.”
- Implication – we will need to wear our institutional structures and concerns lightly – like a pair of shoes. We can change our shoes depending on where we are going, but we need to have a healthy body otherwise it doesn’t matter what kind of shoes we wear.
- Attitudes and behaviors will need to reflect the spirit of Christ. The world is becoming increasingly hostile and tribal – evening homes and unfortunately at church. There must be an oasis of healing and hope – a people who are better and different.
- In 2033, being right won’t make a difference if we aren’t also righteous. [But that’s always been the case – it’s just the rest of the world knows that even before we do]
Eschatology. The kingdom of heaven is breaking in. There is a story, something is happening.
2 Peter 3:10-14
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[b]That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
David Chadwell & Chris Benjamin
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 12 October 2008
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