Wading through the Murky Sea of Change
I don't know why my thoughts drift the way they do. I looked around at our house this morning, which I still think was a "great deal", marveling at all the modern amenities which would "wow" many parts of the world today. The changes I've observed in our society in just the last 30+ years astound me, and I'm not just talking about the technology! Changes in: cultural expressions, religious norms, music styles, dress, "tolerance", legalities, parenting, discipline, sexual expression, educational focus, various attitudes, the pace of life, and so on. Not all change is necessarily progress!
Even considering how sweeping changes across our nation can be set into motion by one vote of a Supreme Court Justice, making certain things immediately legal and other things illegal boggles my mind!
G.K. Chesterton’s made this astounding observation more than half a century ago: “For under the smooth legal surface of our society there are already moving very lawless things. We are always near the breaking-point when we care only for what is legal and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as marriage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions with no rules. There will be so many hard cases that everything will go soft.”
Society has already been drastically changing to bring us to this point. Many of the most dramatic shifts happen within the churches themselves. In an age of financial prosperity, subtleties (or dependencies) can slowly emerge which may cause us to be less effective as the Church, as society at large may think they have less reason to put their faith and trust in God.
Yet true Christianity has always been counter-cultural and in the minority. Those who hold to the supreme authority of the Word of God and live out its radical message in public will be persecuted! (2 Timothy 3:12) You cannot point to the State-Church endorsed by Constantine, or even the founding of our United States of America, though their actions were based upon knowledge of a Sovereign God and the sinfulness of mankind. In our tradition (Baptist), we have been persecuted from the very start, even in the USA!
Unlike the culture at large, we don't mock other religions and worldviews. (although God and prophets in our Old Testament have used that rhetoric, and Jesus certainly didn't mince any words to the Pharisees and those who offered to follow Him halfheartedly) We recognize that we were once there, wallowing in our foolishness; that only through God's gracious power do we stake any claim to adoption into His family. We seek to love when others hate us. We seek to pave the way and take down any roadblock to allow for others unrestricted freedom to see the beauty found in Christ, even if the very same freedom is turned against us at some point. We also recognize the importance of living for the glorious future promised to us by Jesus Christ, even as we live out our purpose here on earth. As Ravi Zacharias puts it, "The eternal must guide the temporal". I think of these words by the apostle Paul:
1 Corinthians 1:21-30 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things— and the things that are not— to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God— that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
This is not the time for Christians to be silent in the public sphere, but to lovingly share the wisdom of God which saves, even if it may appear foolish to many. What's been done in the past has passed. We have been given the gift of TODAY to serve Him and share the great hope we have in Christ. - Pastor Jason (firstname.lastname@example.org)