We have entered what missiologist Ralph Winter described as a “Super-Century” of Christianity. A Super-Century is a span of time when we reevaluate, redefine, and reset our faith. Super-Centuries have occurred every 400-500 years since the inception of the Church 2,000 years ago. The last Super-Century reset took place in the Reformation of 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. We have just entered a new Super-Century.
The Super-Century concept coincides with what futurist David Houle said when he described the years between 2017-2037 as the Shift Age. In that twenty-year period, more change will have taken place than in any fifty-year period of human history.
What are the implications of a Super-Century and what does the rapidity of change taking place in this Shift Age mean for you and me? As unfolding events become increasingly more abundant in both nature and speed, we must make adjustments along the way, so we do not remain stuck in the past, but rather become free to engage an emerging future. Unless we make these adjustments, the rate of change can become so rapid and all-consuming we might become confused, disoriented, and derailed from our focus on God’s mission.
There are three things that will keep our faith mobile and healthy in a time of rapid cultural change and transition.
1. We must reduce our faith to the essentials.
Like an Early Church father once said, “In the essentials unity; in the non-essentials liberty; and in all things love.” The essentials are the very bottom-line issues of our faith like the nature of God and the plan of redemption in Jesus Christ. Non-essentials are our preferences. They can change over time and are subject to our personal interpretation. And finally, no matter whether we are dealing with an essential or non-essential of our faith, all we do must be done in love.
2. We must guard the condition of our hearts.
Perhaps one of the most significant things to come out of this pandemic and stressful election cycle is the realization that a wide variety of interpretations exist within the Church of what is actually taking place in the spiritual realm. This is not the first time in history that the Church has gone through a season of winnowing within its ranks. Until the dust settles and we are able to discern what God has been doing in this season, we need to continually guard our hearts and remain unoffendable. Through prayer and the exercise of our faith, we can actually influence world affairs. If our hearts remain tender and pliable to the will of God, we will experience safe passage through these turbulent times.
3. We must interpret what is taking place from Heaven’s perspective.
With the recent announcement that both President Trump and the First Lady had tested positive for COVID-19, I was reminded once again how fast events can change on the world stage. As I watched world events begin to rapidly accelerate, I was lovingly corrected as to what my role and the role of the Church should be in these unusual times.
I sensed something I felt could have been a message from the Lord and shared it with my wife, Jan. The problem was not what I shared, because what I saw could become a real possibility. My problem was that I only saw a spiritual conflict and its possible negative outcome. I did not look deeper to consider a solution offered from Heaven. In my limited insight, I sensed a dark outcome developing that could become a real possibility if God did not intervene. Jan said, “What you sensed is a call to prayer. You only saw the conflict, not the call to prayer.” I received Jan’s wise counsel.
Apostle Paul said he went to the third heaven and saw unimaginable things. His mention of a third heaven logically infers the existence of a first and second heaven.
What I sensed taking place needed to come under the authority of a greater work of God – a work that originates in Heaven and is revealed on Earth. He can always intervene in the affairs of Earth no matter how dark the current reality or its possible outcome might appear. Heaven’s insight must always be my filter for interpreting the events taking place, or I will see with only limited sight – a sight that will always end up in despair.
These three things – reducing our faith to the essentials, guarding the condition of our heart, and interpreting our reality through the lens of Heaven – will keep us mobile and able to move with God at the speed of our faith. We will then be able to speak the truth in love to individuals and the institutions of society who desperately need a word of hope and direction.