A few days before New Year’s Eve, Jamie and I turned on the t.v. to watch one of my favorite things: the Year in Review. Usually, I enjoy it—looking back, remembering, sometimes being surprised as to how I could forget the stories that dominated the headlines in the past year. Only this year was different. Instead of laughing and enjoying the show, I was shocked… stunned…surprised at the things that we’re being applauded as good and the people and ideas that were being mocked as ridiculous. We were about halfway through the program when my brother said, “We live in a world that celebrates evil and condemns what is good.” As I thought about his words, I realized how very true they were. At first, this thought really disturbed me. Then I began thinking “What does this reality mean each of us as followers of Christ--Christians?” Because whether we like it or not, this is our reality. Even though it’s hard to accept, as followers of Christ called to be the light in a dark world, we need to determine how we can properly respond to our current social climate. As I pondered and prayed, I’ve concluded that each of us needs to make three resolves. First, we need to get serious about strengthening our relationship with God. We need to stop making excuses for why we are too busy to pray and read the Bible and start spending time with God and in His Word on a daily basis. This is the only way that we can have a deep constant relationship with Him. It’s how our hearts become bonded with God’s heart so our hearts and mind are in tune with His. It’s how we learn to hear His voice leading us, guiding us and helping us discern truth from lies. When we spend time with God and in His Word, it allows the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin. As we read the Word, we learn God’s standards for living, how He thinks, operates, and wants His people to live. Secondly, we need to stop tolerating sin in our lives. We need to obey 2 Corinthians 6:17 which says, “Come out from them and be separate.” It's time to stop making excuses for why it is okay for us to tolerate and participate in evil, and start living holy lives. We need to accept the truth that just because the world says something is okay, doesn’t make it okay in God’s eyes. As believers, we need to be different and make the Bible our standard for a living instead of pop culture. Finally, we need to prepare for persecution. We need to face the fact that even if we aren’t actively experiencing it now, in the next 5 to 10 years, persecution is coming. That’s why it is so important that we strengthen our relationship with God right now—so that we are prepared to face persecution when it comes and still stand with Jesus. Because whether we want to face it or not, there is a growing trend in our culture that hates Christianity and all that the Bible teaches. Much like the Pharisees who thought they were doing God a favor by persecuting Jesus, many in our society believe they have the moral high ground and that they are doing the right thing when they persecute those who believe there is only one God, that the Bible is true, and God’s Word is to be obeyed. While I understand that many are already experiencing a level of persecution in their personal lives, I truly believe that in the next decade we will see this persecution grow as the culture and the church continue to come into conflict. How do we as followers of Jesus respond to this? The same way that the Christians in the New Testament did—through an empowerment of the Holy Spirit that only comes from spending time with God in prayer and in His Word. This is an empowerment that comes from responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, from laying aside sin, and choosing to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. It is only through this commitment to wholeheartedly following Jesus, to do whatever it takes, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit that we, like the 12 disciples, will be able to face any persecution that comes our way and stand as witnesses for Jesus. That’s why as we enter the next decade—the 20s— I believe the Holy Spirit is calling God’s people to a deeper level of commitment. To lay aside our sin and our excuses and seriously commit to building our relationship with God and eliminating the things in our lives that want to divide us from Him. It’s time we get serious. To determine in our hearts—whatever in takes, whoever or whatever comes against me, I will follow Jesus.