Embracing What May Come

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5

It seems that every time I look at Facebook, my feed is filled with atrocities, horrifying acts of violence, signposts that indicate waning morality and even social insanity, hints of increasing government control  in America and simultaneously decreasing public awareness, and all manner of corruption both here and abroad.

Then there are the inevitable social media responses which vary from outraged furor to gleeful celebration to bland misunderstanding.

Sometimes it all just sounds like noise to me. And I grow so weary of Facebook and of the news…

All things taken as a whole, it does appear that as a nation we no longer accept any actual standard for discriminating between right and wrong. Media seems to play an increasingly large role in creating and supporting a somewhat shifty moral basis, more intent on what captures the attention of the people than honoring any absolute truth.  The role of government seems to have shifted, too. No longer merely content to uphold a certain standard of right and wrong, they are now modifying it to fit the mood of the people.

Friends, that is not only sad, it’s frightening. If what is “moral” today can become “immoral” tomorrow based on something strikingly similar to a whim, than the value of our very lives is subject to fluctuation.  If morality is a standard judged by something as fickle as society — like fashion — than there is no future guarantee of safety, prosperity, rights… of anything, really.

“Here is a simple but profound rule: If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, then society is absolute.” — Francis A. Shaeffer

I admit these things scare me some. I understand history enough to see the logical conclusions of the very choices that are presently being made by our country.  I am often saddened at what likely lies ahead, particularly for my children and subsequent generations.

But I also have hope, for I am reminded constantly that this America is not my country.  I belong to a Kingdom that is not of this world, and when I view the signs of the times through that lens, I am no longer afraid. In fact, I feel excited. Exhilarated even.

No matter how quickly or slowly the moral climate of America may shift, one thing we can count on as believers is that persecution will come. We are promised it in no uncertain terms many times over in Scriptures (see Matthew 2:9, John 15:20 to name a couple).

As Paul wrote to Timothy: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13).  Persecution is one certainty in an uncertain world. But we who are in Christ need not be afraid. Even persecution has immense value in our Kingdom’s economy.

Historically, the Church has thrived under persecution. It shakes things up, makes believers get to the root of their faith, brings out the importance of prayer and the preciousness of the Word. It leaves little time for bickering over secondary issues and brings Christ into sharp focus. It provides opportunities for real forgiveness where there little or no reason to forgive. It scatters communities of believers and brings the Gospel to new areas because of it.

It also highlights genuine love and faith in a risen Savior like nothing else really can. When believers choose hardship, exile, or death over renouncing their faith in Christ, it is a mighty witness to His worthiness. Others will be watching us, wondering if this thing is real. They already are. What are they seeing? May it be You, Lord; let it be You!

Yes, the darkness is menacing. But we are not children of the darkness, but of Light. It is heady stuff, my brothers and sisters. We do not have to knuckle under to fear, even if it should come knocking at our very doors. We serve a powerful and living God, a God worth not only living for but dying for, and we are His witnesses. Who knows but that we may be on the verge of seeing His hand move in ways we have so far only read of or dreamed about? That is exciting stuff!

Don’t let these crazy times make you fearful, bitter, or angry, Christian! Try to remember that we are just travelers tarrying here for a time on our journey Homeward.

Instead, let’s pray for strength for the Church and for each other, for unity in Christ, for a commitment to the King of kings and to His Kingdom purposes. Rather than feeling hopeless, pray that as we see lawlessness increase, we will also see grace increase more and more, and His Light in us will draw scores of souls to salvation in Christ Jesus. Let’s pray for humble, obedient hearts and for an eternal focus in our present lives.

Let’s pray for each other daily, for endurance and to see His glory and the power of the Holy Spirit. And let us not be sorrowful to live in such a time as this but rejoice at the opportunities they present!

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:4-5

 

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