Jul 15, 2020
In 2020 the world announced the Church was not necessary for life on a daily basis. Unfortunately many people agreed. Some were believers.
How did we get here?
The path began as soon as the early church was launched. It is too long a story to recap the consistent historical attack on God's word and the thoughts of men as they influenced their cultures, however. Instead, let's briefly acknowledge the erosion of faith in our day.
Believers want to love people. They value peace and desire to avoid strife. Yet, we need to speak the "truth in love." (Eph 4:15) It can be a difficult thing to stand for God's truth. Ask Jeremiah or Stephen.
There are different avenues of onslaught but the goal is the same: to undermine the Word of God and His character. We all know that right? But do we recognize it when these attacks are cloaked in the deception of love for others?
In recent history, the acceptance of evolution and its promotion by the scientific community was the first battle surrendered. I say acceptance because Darwin didn't invent evolution. It existed since antiquity. You may point out that Christians won the anti-evolution argument of the 1920s, but evolution progressed and confidence in the Bible decreased. Why? Because believers took the word of unbelieving scientists to heart. They honored finely crafted theories over the truth.
Today the fight continues to be able to teach creation in schools. Here is a list of court cases since 1968. It is not that creationism cannot be taught in public schools today. Eric Hovind assures us it can. The question is, "Is it being taught, and if not, why?"
Some creation scientists like James Tour are outspoken about the treatment they receive as believers amid the general science community. The consensus is you have to be a dum dum to believe the Bible is true. "You are not scientific" is the rant in the very mildest of these opinions.
And these opinions have taken over the scientific world to influence all branches of education including history. The medical fields are founded upon the evolutionary beginnings and workings of man, mind and body. Philosophy has come to the conclusion, like the ancient Greeks, there is no truth. Today we say truth is relevant. To what? Whatever you decide.
It was a quick next step after the acceptance of evolution to remove Bible curriculum from public schools. Then prayer. Because we should not force our uneducated, primitive beliefs upon people of other accepted ancient pagan religions. Some thought it was a compromise with the devil. But others assured us it was done in love, acceptance, tolerance and with the knowledge that we still had our churches and our homes in which to practice Christianity.
Except we didn't. One, because the Bible was now in doubt and the wider world culture became the standard. Two, because pastors were being educated by modernists in the wider world culture as to what the Bible really said.
Theologian Dr. Douglas Kelly points out many evangelical believers have tried to fit evolution into the Bible. In an interview with Dell Tackett,he says, "A modernist, a liberal, will say what the Bible actually says and add, 'I can't agree with this' because his heart is with the European Enlightenment. Whereas an evangelical will say 'I don't want to offend many aspects of the Enlightenment, but I want to remain a Bible believing Christian so let's see if we can't make the Bible fit the longer period of time...' The liberal says 'The Bible says it but it's not true.' The evangelical says 'The Bible says it is true, but the Bible doesn't really say what has been traditionally believed.' So I have to appreciate the candor of the liberal more than the compromise of many evangelicals."
Sounds like biblical truth was compromised doesn't it?. With the purpose of getting along, clothed in the guise of love and honoring others. Or was it really the fear of man? No one wants to be called ignorant. No one wants to offend in the name of Jesus.
And now for Pentecostals and Charismatics. Their vibrant faith and bold dependence on God's word produced healing miracles. But that confidence is not as abundant as it used to be. Not many ran to the Church for advice on what to do about COVID did they? The real source of trust was the medical community. And if you did step out in faith, you were criticized by believers and unbelievers. In the name of love for others...
So here we are self proclaimed non-essential because we have given our authority and truth over to the secular leaders of culture.
In many states, you cannot blame the governors for churches not meeting. You have to look to the church-goers themselves. I drove past a church near me on a Sunday. A handful of the faithful were gathered in their parking lot, wearing masks and sitting in lawnchairs well apart from each other. The epitomy of obedient, love-filled believers. But that Sunday the image spoke to me of something else: Satan's well orchestrated maneuver to kick believers out of their church and gag them.
As a side note, and please bear with me as I just get this out of my system, I've heard Christians explain the wearing of masks to be like not eating the meat offered to idols. The passage says those not able to eat meat offered to idols were considered weak in faith because Paul knew idols were nothing. "However, that knowledge isn’t in all men." (1Cor 8:7 WEB)
But love doesn't leave a weak believer in ignorance.
In fact, the five-fold ministry exists to bring people to a unity of faith. So, the fact remains leaders lead in love and gentleness, yes, but they should lead you forward to faith.
I see masks more like the Jewish circumcision Paul dealt with. More like the statue (Daniel 3) Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego wouldn't bow down to. More like the law Daniel opposed (Daniel 6) and the early believers broke in Acts 4:18.
I see the mask representing and elevating another religion that says God is non-essential and His word is ineffective and can't be trusted. I see it as an octopus with tentacles reaching deep into my church to strangle religious freedom and faith and dangling more threats to come.
Our battle is our freedom to gather, to speak and to worship. It is for our right to exist in the culture and influence it. That has always been our fight. We've already surrendered too much and we are still working to gain it back.
We cannot lose this one. We need to win because we love God more than fear others– because we love them.
Now as in the days of the Greeks, in the 21st century, for many truth doesn't matter even when it is told. That is why chaos is able to reign not just in morality but gender identity and skin color. The lawlessness of the heart is showing up in the lawlessness on the streets.
Fear is the new faith. It is the motivator. The root of reasoning and a growing epidemic in mental health.
Oh bold faith leaders, where art thou? We know you are out there! God is delivering and working miracles in spite of the chaos and fear. It is time to stand. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and the gates of hell will not prevail us.
Image by Priscilla Du Preez courtesy of Unsplash
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