Okay, I admit it. I am tempted sometimes to feel troubled by the times.
From the point of view of someone who believes that there is such a thing as “truth” and that such truth has, as its basis and origin, a Creator, our culture seems to be waging war against the idea of a divine standard and, therefore, the One Who upholds that standard.
I am troubled that our society’s “drift” from God is now a complete freefall from any consciousness of Him and all conviction of moral uprightness. I am troubled by our government’s ongoing rabid support of anti-life (pro-abortion) legislation. I am troubled by the notion that Christianity has become culturally marginalized as if Biblical values have no place in public policy and are therefore interpreted as being irrelevant and now “offensive” and bigoted.
I am troubled by the saturation of unrestrained sensuality that constantly surrounds our children, the reckless and senseless “normalization” of violence as being nothing more than entertainment (particularly when slash-and-gore movies make their rounds this fall), and attitudes of rebellion and dishonor to parents that are popularized in music and popular television. I am troubled by churches that claim to belong to God on the one hand and yet shrug off His Word on the other.
And I am troubled by apathy and powerlessness that often characterizes Christians in general.
But although I may feel troubled, the promises of God have a way of reining my anxieties in. This is not the only occasion in which God’s people have lived in disconcerting times and have faced disconcerting circumstances. In fact, Christians today need to remember to Whom they belong, Whose blood was spilled for them, and Whose promises never fail.
We need not be afraid of the times, nor of policies that are contrary to God’s Word, neither do we need fear increasing disfavor in our society’s eyes. Instead, we ought to continue to fear the Lord Whose hand still governs the nations and holds the entire universe in its grasp.
“The LORD spoke thus to me with His strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, Him you shall regard as holy. Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. And He will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling … And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.’ Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the LORD… I will hope in him” (Isaiah 8:11-17 ESV).
For many today, the Lord is very much “a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling” (see verse 14) because a genuine faith in God that compels people to make radical choices for their lifestyles and values is just too much to ask for some. True disciples that establish boundaries for what is acceptable and what is not, choosing obedience to His Word over comfort and convenience, are rarer and rarer in a world that worships freedom from restraint and responsibility. Many have indeed stumbled (see verse 15) and live now only a watered-down spiritual life. And so they have become snared (also in verse 15), taken by the whims of society and fearful of taking a stand for the values of God.
“For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke” (Isaiah 9:18 ESV).
Nevertheless, if you are His child, then do not fear. It may seem that the shadows of our times have lengthened to a twilight of hope. But if you walk a life that is humbled before the Lord, trusting His promises, and strive to be obedient to His Word, then you can expect the light of His love being shed abroad in your experience.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2 ESV).
Be reminded that the light of Jesus Christ is greater than the darkness of human sin. Be comforted in knowing that the willful and wanton rebellion of a nation does not trump the grace of God which covers His people for all eternity. Yes, we continue to proclaim and hold fast to the truth of Christ.
Yes, we continue to seek godliness in our homes, for our families, and even in how we conduct ourselves at work or in school. Yes, we will frequently be derided for faith in God and godly conviction. But our eyes are not on our circumstances, they’re on God. Our ears are not open to the public opinion, but to the voice of God. Our hands are not quick to win the favor of those who do not know God, but are ready and available to serve the One Who not only always speaks truth but IS truth.
“The LORD loves justice; He will not forsake His saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and His tongue speaks justice. The law of His God is in His heart; His steps do not slip. The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death. The LORD will not abandon him to his power…. Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off” (Psalm 37:28-34 ESV).
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at [email protected]