God is on the Move
"'They say Aslan is on the move-perhaps has already landed.' And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning—either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in his inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer."
With these words, author C. S. Lewis introduces the character of Aslan in his book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Written as a Christian allegory, Aslan is a type of Christ in Lewis' fictional series, The Chronicles of Narnia. In the book, Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund are transported to a magical fantasy world of talking animals amid a dreadful winter. An evil usurping Queen has taken over the land as the rightful King Aslan has been gone for so long that he has begun to fade into myth for many in Narnia. However, amid this perpetual winter, a growing portion of the world's creatures hold to the promise that King Aslan will return to free them from the Witch and her sinister forces. This is the setting in which the encouraging news is announced that "Aslan is on the move!"
Do you feel you live in a land with a perpetual and deepening spiritual winter? Where it seems like brief light snow flurries have become never-ending arctic storms? Have you found yourself lamenting that there is less light in the world? Perhaps you are contemplating whether the "spiritual forces of evil" Paul writes of in Ephesians 6 are winning the day? Or maybe you are questioning where is God?
I understand why you may feel this way. Our culture's metaphorical spiritual winter feels like an ever-deepening arctic storm of delusion. When you scroll through your social media feeds, it often feels like you are living in a Twilight Zone or Black Mirror episode. Our culture is addicted to and in love with the self. We got in the car of radical individualism and drove it at a hundred miles an hour right off a cliff. Our culture is midair belting "I can love me better," along with the singer of a current chart-topping song. Even though everyone keeps saying it's possible to reject reality by living your own truth, it's a lie. Gravity doesn't cease to exist for you because you want to fly. The storm of radical individualism is raging, but the White Witch is not a real queen, and the winter she brings isn't permanent.
God is on the move.
Like Lewis' character Mr. Beaver, I have encouraging news. God is on the move. Recently I sat in a room with elders from partnering churches in Knoxville and the surrounding area. These churches represented our "Mother Church" or the main church helping to establish Christ Church. In addition, several elders from other churches who support our work to plant this new church in Northwest Knox were present. We spent a season in prayer praising God for working to make disciples of Jesus Christ in the Knoxville area, and we petitioned our Lord to use us to make many more. Finally, the elders representing the gathered churches discussed how we would continue to work together to plant new churches in the Knoxville area and, by God's grace, strengthen the churches we each serve. The costs were counted. Wise counsel was given to each other. We stood unified in our Lord and the mission He has given His Church in Matthew 28 to "make disciples." You could feel the metaphorical winter breaking as our church planting strategy was updated.
Following this local meeting, I enjoyed spending several days with almost two hundred and fifty elders from across the Presbyterian Church in America, including elders from several of our international Presbyterian cousins. We spent our days in prayer, fellowship, lectures on the pastoral epistles, worship services, and short reports from brothers serving in church planting. One might expect amid our day of a growing cultural rejection of God and rebellion against His Word that these brothers in Christ would have spent the week complaining to one another. But, praise God, I encountered no pessimism or discouragement amongst the men. In fact, it was the opposite. The atmosphere was saturated with hope in Jesus, His promises, and our God's covenant faithfulness. We listened to short reports from men across the country and the world serving in church planting efforts. So many new church planting efforts were represented that several established plants like Christ Church couldn't give a quick update. Our brothers from Europe, Africa, and Asia shared how the Lord is working to build His Church worldwide. In one report, our brother from China teared up as he commented on the beautiful and powerful singing throughout each day. (And for the record, it was terrific and loud. During one hymn, my phone alerted me that the decibels in the room were approaching too high a level. The sound came from Elders singing Psalms and hymns. It was beautiful. But I digress.) The brother teared up because the underground Presbyterian churches in his country have to quietly sing when they meet for worship so they are not discovered by their civil magistrate, who persecutes Christians. We heard from Elders leading planting efforts in the United States along with the international church planters. Clearly, God is also raising men to serve His Church as teaching elders or pastors. The President of my alma mater Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (GPTS), reported a continued growth in the number of men entering the seminary pursuing ministerial degrees. And the Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) said they are experiencing a similar increase. These are just a few of the encouragements from my time with my brothers in Christ.
Dear saint, do not be discouraged. God is on the move. It is easy to get bogged down in our circumstances and allow the winter fog to block our view of what God is doing in His world. That metaphorical winter fog around you is like the pseudo winter of the Witch in Narnia. Don't be fooled by the lies of Satan. God has promised in Matthew 16, "I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." God is on the move. God is in control. God can be trusted. I pray this glimpse of what I have seen recently will encourage you as we seek to faithfully follow King Jesus here at Christ Church.
Are the spiritual forces of evil winning?
Where is God?
Living Your Own Truth
The Mission of the Church
Making Disciples of Jesus Christ
God is on the Move
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