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FREEBIE: “No Need to Despair, Christians Advised” Discussion Starter

In the News

Washington, D.C.—Christians who are discouraged and disillusioned by the 2016 presidential campaign are being reminded not to give up. In response to a New York Times article that characterized evangelical Christians as despairing, Carmen Fowler LaBerge writes that the word “despair” should never apply to Jesus’ followers.

“An image of despair is not the public witness Christians should ever have in the world,” LaBerge says, adding that believers have nothing to fear. “We’ve already been crucified, right? There’s really nothing left the world can do.” She urges Christians to “get up and suit up—with the full armor of God” and take a stand “as Christ’s ambassadors in the world…so people can get to know him.”

Although it’s tempting to despair about politics and our culture, says Professor Dwight Brautigam, despair could cause Christians to withdraw from public life. And then they can’t be salt and light for Jesus.

Pastor Mark Verbruggen, who acknowledges that most people would rather vote “none of the above” on Election Day, says another date in November is more important. The Sunday before Advent, known as Christ the King Sunday in the liturgical church calendar, commemorates Jesus’ eternal rule. Christians worried about November 8 should “change your focus and look to November 20,” Verbruggen says. “We don’t despair, because whoever becomes our next president will simply be one more ruler under the sovereignty of God.”

Even though Christians are citizens of heaven, they should be active in government and seek God-honoring leaders, says “BreakPoint” co-host John Stonestreet. But he adds, “Our deepest problems are not political, and so no politician or election is the solution for our deepest problems.”

Stonestreet advises churches to “disciple believers in the public application of Christian truth” and to remind people that their hope in Jesus should define them.


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Discussion Starters for Student Small Groups

What examples of despair have you expressed or heard lately? What types of events or circumstances have made you despair—or tempted you to give up?

Do you agree that it’s wrong for Christians to ever despair? Is it okay to feel despair about the consequences of sin, such as injustice, tragedies, loss, illness, and so on? Why or why not?

When Christians appear defeated or disengage from public life, what message do we send about our faith and our God? Do Christians always need to be upbeat and wear a smile, or can that seem phony? Explain.

To what degree are you intimidated by the world or by what might happen to you in it? Are you confident that the world can’t harm you, thanks to Jesus’ victory over death? If so, how does that show in your day-to-day life?

To be salt and light for Jesus in this world, how engaged do Christians need to be with the culture? with non-Christians? with the government? If you distance yourself from sinfulness, can that be part of your Christian witness? Why or why not?

How do you deal with the duality of living on earth yet being a citizen of heaven? Are you eager to begin your heavenly life? Are you excited about your role of serving as Christ’s ambassador here on earth? Explain.

What difference does it make in your life that Jesus is your eternal King? Does that knowledge make you less inclined to care about earthly governments? less inclined to follow earthly laws? Explain. If Jesus is King, why does he command us to obey earthly officials?

In what area do you need Jesus’ help to overcome despair and find joy? What encouragement would you offer to people who feel hopeless—either about the upcoming election or about life in general? How can sharing the reason for your hope strengthen your own faith?

Scripture links: Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 5:13-16; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 6:10-18; Philippians 1:21-30; and 1 Peter 3:13-17.

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FREEBIE: “No Need to Despair, C...

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