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I doubt seriously if I am the only person to be confused and disturbed about things we see around us. I am horrified by the bizarre extremes of the sexual revolution being forced down our throats. At the same time those who would to some extent agree about that are proclaiming America first, which sounds to me like selfishness encoded in national policy. I am aware this will offend some whom I love. But the Bible is clear about this. God is a globalist. “For God so loved the world.” Are you in tune with God? Yet, many who agree that we ought to be concerned about developing countries, or even for the disadvantaged around us, demand that we also support every wild sexual perversion. They assume suggesting that these things are immoral or even unhealthy violates someone’s civil rights.

 

I recently read The Benedict Option. And I recommend that you read it. While I do not agree with everything Rod Dreher said in the book, I do believe his major premise is right. We have lost the culture War, and we need to focus on being a holy church in spite of it.

 

While I believe this is true it does not make me less confused or disturbed. What is the will of God for us in these days? The most peace I've gotten as I have prayed about this came last week as I read 2 Timothy in my devotional time. Does this passage not clearly describe what we see all around us?

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

 

Let me suggest some obedient responses to the world where God has posted us to serve Him in these days. We must carry out these things together.

 

Believe

We need to Believe the Bible in a world that rejects it. We need to submit to the authority of God and His word over us even when we do not understand. You are being bombarded by the notions of our society just like everyone else. The world and the flesh and the devil are planting their values in you. And there are some things that you believe that are wrong because the times in which you live have influenced you. Only God's word can deliver you from contemporary misinformation. We need to hold to it as an anchor for our lives even when we are not able in our own strength to persuade others.

 

Live

1 Peter 2:12 calls us to live godly lives before the world around us.

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they may accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

This will mean being honest even if it costs you your job. This means being godly and generous even though others will take advantage of you. What else might this mean in your life?

 

Love

The most important expression of godliness in our lives is love. I am not talking about sentimentality. We need the ultimate absolutely selfless agape love set out in 1 Corinthians 13, demonstrated in the life of Jesus, and striven for by the early church. We will need to love, minister to and forgive one another, our neighbors and even our enemies.

 

Teach

These are crucial days for us to teach sound doctrine to the church. And we need to teach anyone who will listen, although again in 2nd Timothy Paul says in the last days people will not endure sound doctrine. In 2 Timothy 2:25,26 Paul speaks of teaching even those who would oppose a godly teacher.

“Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will”

 

Stand

Even in these days when it seems we have lost the culture war, we need to do our best to stand against wickedness, to stand for righteousness, justice godliness, and faith. There may be times where this will be impossible. It would have been a death sentence to publicly oppose the Nuremberg racial laws in Berlin in 1942. But there were some who believed they needed to do their best to fight evil, even though it would cost them their lives.

There is always hope that God will turn things around. Recently my granddaughter invited me to read The Mysterious Benedict Society. The children who are the heroes in the story sneak into an institute that is getting ready to take over the world by overwhelming all who “love the truth.” At one point it seems to them that they themselves cannot resist the barrage of untruth thrown at them. In that time they receive a message from those supporting them from outside saying, “What has been lost may yet be found. Have hope.” With God there's always hope.

 

And most important, Pray.

Prayer is more crucial in these days than it has ever been in all of history. Who knows if God will not delay this ultimate destiny by sending revival in nations all across the earth, possibly one final time before the end. Even if He does not, our prayers may bring hundreds of thousands to Christ in the midst of tribulation. Many will stand against that old serpent the devil by the word of our testimony, by the blood of the Lamb, and who through our prayers will not love our lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)

 

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Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on September 16, 2017 at 12:23pm

I couldn't agree more, David!  I think that it's valuable to hold some of our thoughts along these lines a bit loosely.  The ones who dig in with strident voices tend, it seems, to hurt the cause rather than to help it.  And they can get so caught up in a specific cause that the greater goal of reaching the lost in every nation, tribe, and language for the Kingdom can get lost.  Good discussion!

Comment by David Young on September 12, 2017 at 11:58pm

Very insightful, Andrew. Thank you. In fact, I have begun reading Timothy Keller's Making Sense of God. Reading it makes me feel like I have been influenced too much by the world the, flesh, and the devil, via the media. I believe both perspectives are important. But while we may have lost the culture war in politics and the media, I should not assume either can hinder what God is up to. I apologize for my shifting opinions. I am aware my thinking is as erratic as the ball on a roulette wheel. I do hope to come to some resting place. I don't disagree with anything I wrote. And your thinking is profound. I believe you bring more balanced thinking. But I am convinced I am not seeing the whole picture. And while we need books like The Benedict Option. I think books like Keller's may be more helpful. And Scripture will keep us in tune with God's thinking even when we do not understand what He is up to.

Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on September 11, 2017 at 6:55pm

The church at large has indeed lost much of its prophetic voice in our society.  Perhaps we have become too much like the world.  Perhaps in our (rightful) desire to welcome all into the family of God, we've lost touch with the emphasis that scripture puts on spiritual transformation.  Perhaps we've emphasized that Jesus accepts all who come to him regardless of where they've been to the point where we've forgotten that he doesn't leave them where they are. 

And, at the other extreme, perhaps we've gotten so concerned about the political and social issues that confront us in our culture that we've forgotten that the real battle is a spiritual one.  Perhaps in our well-meaning desire to make a difference, we've left out our most important spiritual weapon for this spiritual battle: prayer.

I recently heard or read an interesting point of view on this, one that has caused me to think more deeply about this idea of a prophetic voice.  It was the contention of the author that in sports, there's a difference between being the home team and the visiting team.  The home team has all the advantages, and the visiting team is trying to "take" the field or the court or the ice (or whatever). 

The author went on to say that for most of America's history, Christians have been the "home team".  We've been the majority, from the earliest days of the Pilgrims into the 20th century.  Somewhere that changed.  Many would probably point to the 60's as the decade in which it changed - but whenever it happened, we're not the "home team" any more.  We're surprised when our leader calls for a national day of prayer spontaneously.  We're not surprised to hear of Christian businesses essentially persecuted for acting out their faith in various ways.

In countries where Christians are a much smaller minority than we are here, the church tends to take a different approach to social issues.  Churches in Muslim countries don't make a huge deal out of speaking out about women's rights.  Churches in Communist countries don't lay it all on the line for freedom of the press.  They know that they're the visiting team, and arguments over the ills of society aren't going to accomplish their spiritual purposes of the salvation of many.

I don't know where this leaves me in my thinking about what a "prophetic voice" in society means.  We see examples of prophets in the Old Testament who spoke out against the ills of society.  But we are not a theocracy.  I don't see the church in the New Testament focused this way.  None of Paul's letters were addressed to governments.  The morality/spirituality he encouraged, he encouraged within the church. 

Should it surprise us that a society that is leaving God behind promotes values like abortion and all kinds of sexual confusion?  Should we wonder that the divorce statistics are what they are?  Should we marvel that personal accountability seems to be a thing of the past, and that the idea of consequences for decisions and actions is decried as being unfair or lacking compassion?

More importantly, how do we respond to these obvious departures from God's clear direction?  Is our response more about the specific departures, or more about the fact that we're leaving God out of the equation?  What is the prophetic role of the church in a time like this?

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