A World Headed Down Its Natural Path, and Christian Consistency
1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” “2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” “15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”
Like many of you, my heart is both shocked and numbed at the news of the Texas school shooting, leaving over 20 dead, most of them elementary children. I had started writing just when those events were playing out, and I had to stop to contemplate and pray. When the unbelieving world acts in an immoral manner, it is no less horrible to its victims, but this is sadly an act according to one’s worldview.
Two weeks ago, the day after a mass shooting in a New York supermarket left 10 people dead, a 68-year-old opened fire on parishioners at a Taiwanese Presbyterian church in southern California. He killed one and injured five before parishioners subdued and tied him up. The man killed in the attack was 52-year-old Dr. John Cheng, who charged the shooter in an attempt to save fellow church members. His quick thinking and courage surely saved lives. Orange County officials called Cheng’s actions “heroism” and “a meeting of good versus evil.”
Christians have to think critically and carefully about the world we live in, particularly as our nation, I believe, is going through a significant transformation. It was not too long ago when we had the majority of our public professing to be Christian, even if the reality of that was highly unlikely. Many knew the social norms associated with Christian living, even if they lacked the power associated with an actual relationship with the Risen Christ. You could even say that the majority had significant social pressure to maintain a certain moral code, such as church-going, standards of modesty & acceptable language, waiting to have children within wedlock, not stealing, and so on.
We are now entering into a time in our nation where the apparent vocal majority is not constrained with Judeo-Christian social pressures, and are increasingly acting out of individual cost/risk analysis. “Is it good to do this?” is replaced with “Is it good for ME…Is it legal (or) Can I get away with it?” Transcendent meaning and purpose is replaced by a rugged, narcissistic individualism, as critical, objective thinking is eclipsed by subjective emotionalism appeals, consistent with the teachings in both commercial and educational societies! So we have those who act consistently within that worldview, and those who act inconsistently. We can bemoan the tragedies we see around us, but we cannot fault mass shooters for acting inconsistently with what is being taught out there!
Apologist and writer Peter Kreeft once observed, “when you find yourself on the edge of the moral abyss, the only way forward is backward.” Meaning, that “The Way” as already been laid out for you. It’s been disclosed from the beginning: “You are not your own; you belong to God.” Thank God, there is repentance! Though these mass shootings are objectively evil for all, only Christians have a real say in declaring these things to be what they are, because we ourselves have been rescued out of it! We are no longer “Slaves to sin” (Romans 6)! “…while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)
God doesn’t simply call us to be no worse than the world: He calls us to be set apart, faithful to His standards. As the 1 Peter passages point to above, it is our holy consistency, by God’s Spirit, that will shine His Light sufficiently to provide the answers to a chaotic world, even “to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)
I think that there are many changes coming. Missions will be changing, as missionaries will have to carefully do the “cost-benefit analysis” (carrying your cross from Luke 14), with a far greater likelihood of giving one’s life for what God is calling one to do. Church-going will change, as members of the Body of Christ will need to expect to be socially ostracized and face “cancellation” or blacklisting as a result of their commitment. Confrontations, attacks, and injustices against Christians will increase, AS we live consistently within our own worldview “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Just as we already see in scripture, and hear about around the world!
Dare I say that this is a positive thing?! We now have a greater opportunity than ever before in letting our light shine brightly! Inconsistencies will be shown more clearly for what it is, and consistent actions on behalf of our love for Jesus Christ will only give greater glory to the One who “…who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) I pray that this will be true for you and me!