Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Called to Fight

{Ephesians 6:10-12; ESV}
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Yesterday (Monday, March 16) I was listening to Deace in the Afternoon on WHO radio out of Des Moines, Iowa. I am not a fan of Steve Deace, I think he is an arrogant self-righteous jerk, but he usually gives me something to think about, and that is why I occasionally listen.

Yesterday his topic for the first two hours, of which I only listened to the first 30 minutes, was about why social conservatives have lost the cultural war. He played an audio clip of Dr. James Dobson’s resignation speech in which Dr. Dobson admits that while some battles have been won, the war up to this point has been lost. While I don’t know Deace’s entire take on this, I do know part of it had to do with the fact that conservatives, especially Christian conservatives, have comprised too often.

While that may be so, I would like to offer another possibility: God has never called us to fight this war to begin with. Yes, we think we are standing up for God’s truth by fighting this way and getting in bed with the politics of this world, but we have forgotten the true cause of Christ. We are like the church in Ephesus who stood for truth and hated evil, but had lost their first love. You know what the consequence was for that? The consequence was that Jesus was going to come and remove them from His presence (Revelation 2:1-7). We are not just to stand up for truth and hate evil, but most importantly we are to love God and to love people. If we are not loving then we have missed the point of God’s call in our lives.

Because we have lost our first love we have not focused on what is truly important, and the consequences are all around us. While we have been out there trying to defend marriage, clean up the airwaves, and protect the unborn child our church buildings were emptying. It is now to the point, according the a statistic I heard at the Preaching Teaching Convention at the end of February, that on any given Sunday 17 percent of the population attends church. On top of that most of us realize the total lack of maturity that exists in the people that do attend. While fighting this war we have lost the more important battle for the hearts of people.

While we have been trying to create a culture that we are comfortable with we have allowed the younger generation to slip away. Do you realize that that 3 out of 4 Christian students who go off to college lose their faith? No wonder our church families are getting older and older and are on the verge of dying. We have let Satan have a whole generation without even putting up a fight! Christian parents haven’t fought for the hearts of their children by being people of faith and Churches succumbed to the pressure of culture and sought to entertain the youth rather than instruct them in God’s Word.

Here is the sad reality of all this: the “culture war” would never have been lost if the American Church would have focused on the right thing to begin with. The Church has given up her place to be the light in the culture because we stopped influencing individuals. When people live by faith in Christ Jesus then things like defending marriage, abortion, smut on television, and drug addiction become non-issues because God’s truth is influencing their hearts.

Make no mistake about it, we have been called to fight, but we are not called to preserve a culture, but to save the hearts of people. So how do we do that? We do that by being the people, and thus, the Church God called us to be. To be more specific we do that first and foremost by worshiping God for who He is and what He has done. Constantly in the New Testament the writers refer us back to the reality of God’s love shown to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. God knows that we need constant reminding of His love in order for us to worship Him.

Not only do we need to worship Jesus, but we need to get serious about teaching. This requires preparation. I am so tired of preachers and teachers (I am guilty of this myself) not preparing their lessons and doing just enough to get by. Have we forgotten that life and death hangs in the balance? The Truth is way too important to be handle so lightly.

Along with preparation comes prayer. In Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 we find to great prayers of the apostle Paul in which he prays for his readers to have wisdom and understanding and that the eyes of their hearts be opened to the light of God’s truth. We need to invite God to be part of the teaching process. He wants people to know His truth, it is important to Him, and so let us make it important for us as well by inviting God to teach alongside of us.

Finally, we need to be people of faith. We can’t influence the world, the culture, if we are not any different than they are. The Church in the United States is a comprised and sick church. We have allowed ourselves to be influenced by the culture to the point that we are now students of culture rather than of Scripture, we are materialistic and drowning in debt, and we don’t hate our sin enough to struggle to get rid of it.

I want to leave you with the opening paragraph from Henry Blackaby’s book Holiness:
“It is the people of God who can truly shape a nation. Many look to great leaders or powerful governments to shape a nation. But most likely, leaders and governments will not restore a nation once it is on the downward slide. While leaders sand governments can influence a nation, there is no group of people who can determine the coming years of a nation like God’s people” (p. 1).


Neill said...

They still let Deace be on the radio...that's crazy. Even moreso that they put him on the blowtorch and not on some small DM sports station making a fool of himself about how little he knows about the hawks.

Neill said...

And you're very right about the post you have here.

Paul said...

Yes, he still on the radio with three hours to call his own. It is somewhat surprising, but there must be an audience otherwise he would have been gone. Thanks for commenting, by the way, Neill

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