Dear Friends in Christ,
As Christians, we are living in tumultuous times: old things, some of which were good, are passing away, and new things, some of which are frightening, are coming upon us. Many of us are asking what this means, and how we should live in the midst of this turmoil. What should we accept, what should we fight, and if the latter, how militantly should we conduct the fight? The changes fall into two broad categories – spiritual/religious and secular/civil, so most people are feeling the stress of change from two directions at once.
In the spiritual realm, we are seeing old churches fall into apostasy, marching straight to the gates of Hell in full formal attire. Things that were taught us from the church’s nursery through confirmation and ordination are now discarded by some church leaders. Is Jesus the Christ the only begotten Son of God, the Way, the Truth and the Life, or is he just one of several valid ways to find the “god presence?” I stand by what I was taught, by what I have lived in this teaching of Christ, and the truth that has flowed from it, and I will not budge.
Did Jesus die on the cross in my place? Did he give his life for me and you and the person down the street that I don’t like too much, so that the penalty for our sins will not have a death claim on our eternal souls? I do believe this, and it has changed how I treat other people, especially those I don’t like. To love Jesus, to follow Jesus, means that one’s character, one’s actions, one’s passions are reshaped and molded invisibly, perhaps supernaturally, but discernibly nevertheless.
Other aspects of spiritual change have been the importation into the church of sexual standards and behavior not in agreement with the Word of God. The list is long enough – Christian church leaders with multiple divorces, remarriages and infidelities; the increasing acceptance of homosexuality and related same-sex unions and marriage; and the increasing disintegration of heterosexual marriage and couples living together without marriage. Added to that are the instances where women wish to have children although there is no husband, so they use various means to begin their pregnancy, and raise their child as a single parent.Many circumstances, often heart-breaking, can cause a parent of either gender to be the sole provider and nurturer in child raising, and it is clear how hard this is, and how much they need a helping hand rather than extra criticism. Still, it is God’s best plan that children be raised in a stable, loving, two-parent home where the child learns directly from spiritually and emotionally healthy parents what it means to be a man or a woman. If you have such a family, and you know of a child in a single parent family, why not include the parent and child in some of your family outings or celebrations? Children need good models, especially in this changing and uncertain world.
In reality, I think the sexual issues taken by themselves are tertiary, and the uniqueness of Christ and the authority of Holy Scripture are primary issues, but somehow all these issues seem to be inextricably linked together. The changes in sexual standards mean that Holy Matrimony is under assault both in and out of the church.
In the secular/civil arena, legislation being offered by CONSERVATIVE party leaders in the UK would FORCE all clergy in England to officiate at gay and lesbian civil unions in their churches or be severely punished. Unless we fight vigorously, this will come to North America as well, perhaps in Canada first. Be aware of where your candidates for governmental office stand, and hold them accountable for what they do after they are elected.
Many of our members in the church, perhaps nearly all of us, are in some way suffering from the bursting of the Western economic bubble, with many unemployed or under-employed, many who have lost their homes to foreclosure and many who have seen the value of their homes steeply decline. The Book of Proverbs is full of financial admonitions that we have forgotten to our great cost.
But in the midst of the civil and religious chaos of this world, there are some things I am sure of: I am clear about God and what He is up to, and I want to be a vital part of what God is doing, even in the face of adversity from a world gone crazy. I believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to shape culture and society, not the other way around, and we must keep working on that. Whether we finish this earthly life wealthy or financially impoverished, let us stay the Gospel course to the end, participating with Jesus Christ in His and our Heavenly Father’s business of grace, forgiveness and restoration.
May God bless you in all your steps that keep pace with Him,