By / Jan 11

In 1987, R.E.M. released its hit song, “It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” You’ve probably heard it once or twice. It’s a fast-paced, catchy tune that seems oddly jubilant for a song about the end of the world.

In a world where seemingly every news story is saturated with the stench of bad news, it’s easy to plug our noses, close our eyes, and beg for Jesus to come back. R.E.M. can “feel fine” all they want; in reality, it feels like the end of the world is at our doorstep and we’re scared to death to answer the door. Deep down, we all want God to pull the plug and get this over with.

To be fair, it’s understandable to long for Jesus’s return in the midst of a sinful world. We groan with creation for his return, relying on the Spirit to remind us that “all things work together for the good of those who love God” (Rom. 8:18-30). The world isn't the way it’s supposed to be, and it’s not the way it always will be. It might be the end of the world as we know it, but we should feel fine.

On earth as it is in heaven

Genesis 1-3 tells us a lot about the future. After a snapshot of God speaking all things into existence, humanity takes center stage. Adam and Eve, though created, didn’t simply exist alongside the rest of creation like roommates sharing an apartment. They were, instead, given the keys to creation. They were landlords of the whole thing, under God’s rule. They were also ordered to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).

The idea was not only to have children and propagate the species—they were ordered to multiply humans who could then multiply more humans, resulting in the spreading of God’s image across the whole earth. Like ancient kings who identified their kingdoms and marked their territory by placing their replica on key items (e.g., temples, coins, statues), God wanted to mark the earth with his created image-bearers.

But Adam and Eve didn’t make it very long before they were Trojan-horsed by Satan and evicted from the perfection of Eden (Gen. 3). They traded imperishable eternity with their Maker for rotting fruit. They handed over the keys to creation.

Matthew 4, in an eerily similar scene to that of Genesis 3, tells of Jesus’s encounter with Satan. Satan pulls out his top hat and begins to pull rabbits from within. “Turn these stones to bread, Son of God. Throw yourself from this temple and let God’s angels catch you, Son of God. I will give you all the kingdoms of the world, Son of God.” In response to these tactics, Jesus answers the way Eve should have. He says, more or less, “God said to trust what he says. He has given me authority over creation. I have all I need in him. Now go away.” And Satan, the serpent that he still is, slithers away. Instead of being deceived by Satan, Jesus withstood and defeated him. The God-man took the keys back.

Jesus prays in Matthew 6:9-10 for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” In Eden, this was a reality. God walked among his people. There was no barrier between them. Though sin broke that bond, Jesus stepped into human history to fix it. So when he prays for heaven and earth to meet, he’s not being trite—he’s proclaiming something universe-altering. He’s praying for the inauguration of Revelation 21-22, where Satan and sin have been defeated and where God’s people dwell with him again. Edenic perfection is restored, but better—the world looks like it was eventually supposed to, covered in image-bearers who bask in the rays of his glory for eternity. This is not something to fear; it’s something to rejoice in.

When the bad news is gone

Jesus’ prayer mentioned above, his words in the Sermon on the Mount, his Transfiguration, his call for multiplying disciples of all nations, etc. are all signposts for the new heaven and new earth. He didn’t come live a perfect life and conquer the grave so we could sit on our hands. He made us new creations here and now, to be ministers of reconciliation here and now, and to be his mouthpiece here and now (2 Cor. 5:17-21). He sends us out to mirror what the end of Revelation promises. Our lives should shout eternity to the world around us.

The disciples in Acts 2 weren’t preaching and living out merely good morals; rather, they were painting a picture with their lives that this broken world doesn’t have the final word. They were pointing to something bigger. Peter preached about God’s judgment and the disciples shared all their belongings because, in eternity, everything broken will become unbroken. There will be no more evil or selfishness or famine. People will live together in one accord under the reign of a perfect King.

This is still our call today. We are still ministers of reconciliation. God still uses his people to show the world what redemption looks like. We give because one day, no one will be in need. We tell the truth because one day, there will never be another lie. We gather together to worship God and to press one another toward him because one day, worship will be the air we breathe. We share the good news because one day, there will be no more bad news.

By / Sep 30

Over-churched and under-reached.

That’s how pastor Dean Inserra described his city of Tallahassee, Fla.  

“There are a lot of church buildings, but not a lot of people in the churches. Christianity around here is much more cultural than it is convictional,” he explained.

The Sunshine State’s capital city is also host to two major colleges: Florida State University and Florida A&M University. And this gives the local Church multiple opportunities to reach the “under-reached” in that area.

But not in the way we might think when we think of college ministry.

Between both schools there were approximately 3,000 reported pregnancies last year. Statistically, 40 percent of pregnant college students have abortions.

Inserra’s wife, Krissie, is the former Campus Coordinator for A Women’s Pregnancy Center, a local crisis pregnancy center. As a liaison between the center and the two colleges—a worker on the front lines of the pro life movement—she brought home story after story of the fight for the sanctity of life. Krissie now cares for her newborn at home while Briley Cotton, another City Church member, is the new coordinator.

Inserra and his 2,000-member congregation, City Church, responded and decided it was time to roll up their sleeves, open their wallets and put hands and feet to their conviction that every life matters.

Like several other established churches in the area, City Church began supporting A Women’s Pregnancy Center through monetary donations that fund the purchase of ultrasound machines.

Inserra wants the Church to find more ways like this to be actively, tangibly pro life: “I have always been passionately pro life. Sometimes we need to figure out what it means and how we should carry that out. As a Christian, I want to be able to put feet to that position and make a difference.”

And the difference has been astounding. From January through June of 2014, 120 women were given ultrasounds. Of those women, 53 of them were abortion-minded prior to the ultrasound. After the ultrasound, 35 of those abortion-minded women chose life for their unborn babies.

Inserra is energized and encouraged by these results.

“It is mind blowing to see how many women chose life because of the ultrasound experience. It is a game changer because no one can deny what it is; when you see the baby, you see it’s a life,” he explained.

City Church supports the center by participating in other efforts, such as their annual Walk for Life, fundraising banquets and general volunteer work.

Inserra said his church also offers a helping hand and assurance to the moms-to-be: “We tell these moms, ‘we will walk alongside you and be here for you. We will help you raise this baby or we will help you place this baby for adoption. We care about your baby and we care about your soul.’”

The ministry goes beyond the woman and the baby. A men’s ministry was started to reach the fathers of these unborn babies.

“A woman is more likely to carry the child if the father is on board. One of the reasons a woman walks into an abortion clinic is because the guy is telling her to do it. In her mind, she is going to raise this baby all by herself,” Inserra explained.

“If the baby’s dad can get on board, the mother knows she has support. And then lives can be saved.”

As a believer that abortion is the greatest social justice issue of our time, Inserra urges the younger generation of believers to see it for what it is—and to be vocal and active.

“I see a generation that seems to be all about social justice: wearing this bracelet and liking that cause, but they seem to be largely silent about this issue,” he said. “Crisis pregnancy centers across the country are actually ground zero for social justice.”

Referring to abortion as “our generation’s holocaust,” Inserra looks to 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 as the motive to speak out and take action on behalf of the unborn.

“We are compelled by the work of Christ—the love of Christ—to care about the most vulnerable and least of these. And the most vulnerable and voiceless are the unborn children,” he explained.

“As gospel-believing people we will speak on behalf of the unborn. We are going to be people who are about justice. And you cannot be about justice unless you start there.”

Inserra is hopeful that more in the Church will see abortion as a gospel issue rather than a political issue. He wants to see the power of the gospel infiltrate the abortion industry and change lives.

“We have seen the gospel restore broken people who have come into the center. They finally realize that the blood of Jesus covers not just our sin in part, but the whole. I’m not banking on a court reversal of Roe v. Wade