That was the message last night from Peter Lynas, UK director of the Evangelical Alliance, at the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly at Church House in Belfast.
Around 1,000 elders from some 500 congregations across the island have gathered for the denomination’s annual decision making and governing assembly.
It finishes tomorrow.
Mr Lynas told them last night: “We are coming out of a global pandemic that has massively changed almost everything ...
“We are navigating the challenges of in-between spaces – there are no rules, no markers. It can be very disorientating.”
He recommended that Presbyterians take the biblical character of Daniel as their example – having made friends with enemies that kidnapped him and took him to an alien land.
“In a chaotic and contested culture, we need to know the God story and the God of that story,” he said.
“Our identity is found in Him. To be a Christian is to be ‘in Christ’. To know God. To be known by God. To come to know ourselves.”
It is easy to be pessimistic as to what is coming next, he said.
However, a ‘Talking Jesus survey’ found that in 2022, one-in-three of the average Christian’s non-believing friends “wanted to know more about Jesus”.
Research has found, he added, that 20% of the population believe Jesus is God; 54% believe Jesus is a real historical person and 45% believe in the resurrection.
“People are desperate for something more. And they desperately need Jesus. Let our relationships be seasoned with grace.”
Speaking of the divinely inspired wisdom and vision of Daniel, he added: “We are living at an extraordinary moment of history.
“Our culture and our friends are living in a nightmare and they need someone like Daniel to reveal the hidden mysteries of this moment.
“This season belongs to the pastors and the prophets. People desperately want to talk to someone they can trust – someone who will genuinely care for them.
“But they also want someone to guide them through this chaos – reveal hidden mysteries – to chart a way through.”
Also yesterday, the general assembly heard that a major international conference on the Bible would take place in Belfast on September 12 and 13.
Organised by the church’s Union Theological College, the conference is entitled, ‘Martin Luther: Bible Translator, Illustrator & Publisher’ and celebrates the 500th anniversary of Luther’s translation of the New Testament, known around the world as his ‘September Testament’.
The conference will bring together an international team of scholars and will reflect on the legacy of the September Testament and many of the ramifications that are felt to this day.
For more details visit www.union.ac.uk.