UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES AND KNOWING WHAT TO DO
There may be times in our lives when we’re unsure what to do. How do we decide an appropriate course of action? Tucked away in the book of Chronicles is a picture of a tribe of Israel who were able to give wise counsel to the nation,
Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command. — 1 Chronicles 12:32
The word, understood, conveys the idea of discernment, meaning, and wisdom. This word is fairly common word in the book of Proverbs. Do we understand the times? We have a tendency to gravitate toward the people and ideas that support our worldview and fail to take into account those with a different worldview than us.
If you are to understand the times, you cannot be indifferent or withdraw from the culture around you. You cannot understand the times if you are antagonistic to the culture. There’s much about today’s culture that you may not like, but that’s not an excuse to stop loving people within the culture.
Why is it that Christians expect non-Christians to act like Christians?
This does not imply that we accept the culture but that we use the culture to reach the culture. We do not compromise what we believe, but we communicate it a way to help the people understand. How can we be a force for positive change if we don’t understand the times in which we live? It is not sufficient however, to merely understand the times, we must know what to do.
The tribe of Issachar knew what Israel should do. In the Old Testament, God worked through a nation; now God is working primarily through the church. Does your church know what they should do? As we view the health of the church throughout the world, we see some churches are thriving, whereas others are closing their doors. Could it be that their traditions have blinded them to their current cultural context and they no longer understand the times?
The church is uniquely positioned to offer a radically beautiful alternative to the culture. We can be a bridge or a barrier to reaching people. We must make the Gospel accessible and understandable to those around us. Jesus taught His disciples that they are not be blinded by methodology and tradition,
No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins. — Mark 2:21-22
Do you understand the times and know what the church should?