"Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God—the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God."
Through men’s history there has always been cruelty and injustice. Since World War Two North America enjoyed the longest overall span of affluence and peace in hundred’s of years.
This was the case up until 2020, for the most part we lived in a rare era of human history where... at least in most of North America... good was generally good, evil was generally evil. We had some idea culturally and individually where the boundaries were so to speak.
In March of 2020 we started “two weeks to flatten the curve”… and things began to change on multiple levels… not just in regards to vaccines, masks and confusing rules about health orders.
Racism flared up as story after story on the news showed the dark side of men, lawlessness began to take over many major cities, there was tyrannical government overreach in many parts of the world including the US and Canada not seen since pre World War Two.
In the Church as well a number of megachurch Pastors were exposed as narcissistic abusers, and while these things rocked the world of faith a number of Christian celebrities left the faith entirely… with a social media driven American exodus from Christianity. Young adults began to question faith in light of so much sin and spiritual abuse in the Church in North America.
It has indeed been a roller coaster the last several years… even personally as my wife and I were in the middle of a massive Church split that was spurred on by that same spiritual abuse, legalism and pride. We are still seeking God on where we should land up in Community today!
Politicians and media outlets used the cultural penchant for virtue signaling and herd mentality to fan flames of division on both sides of the political or cultural spectrum to appease there respective core bases. This was a catalyst to leave many relationships emotionally and spiritually damaged as even previously unified Christian communities were divided by vaccination status, masks or other political and cultural hot potatoes.
Diversity and inclusion also rose as buzz words… but instead of creating peace and unity these efforts have grown divisions… which makes sense because the more we talk about what makes us different the more conflict that arises. The message is we love diversity and inclusion unless you don’t believe what we believe… it is inconsistent and needlessly divisive.
This all brings me to community… community has been slaughtered as well meaning individuals have staked out their positions.
In fact… community has been quartered and drawn in this arena of mistrust and virtue signaling. We have become introverted in both our culture and our faith… except online… where virtue signaling continues to produce the “likes” we need and the affirmation we need…
Instead of producing better people… this drive for self affirmation of our own feelings and ideologies continues to fracture love for others because all affection and love is conditional.
Social media has never produced improved communities… it has all of the words but NONE of the connection. Authentic, interactive communities based on love and mutual respect produce better people.
Our roller coaster ride is not over… there is more coming. There are forces at work that want community destroyed and people to feel alone and isolated. Alone and isolated people produce compliant, easy to control populations that will do almost anything to live in perceived freedom.
While there may be temporary political reprieve coming for a season… it would be unwise to place our hope or our faith in any mere man or woman. They will all have a propensity to fall to the human condition. While we must still vote and try to influence our country for future generations in terms of justice and freedom… our hope in mere men or women will always let us down. The condition of the human heart remains compromised by the stain of original sin.
So far this may seem a down post… but it’s not!
We must draw our attention away from the temporal… and towards the eternal. What we must do now is seek a living relationship with Jesus Christ… and in that relationship we must begin to ask ourselves “what lines will I not cross?”. Another way to phrase that question is “what hill am I willing to die on?”.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were young men when they were taken as personal servants of King Nebuchadnezzar II, who was the King of Babylon at the time. They made a decision they would follow their God... no matter what. When asked to worship the king as God they chose to lose it all including their lives in a fiery furnace rather than leave their God.
We don't live in a "real" Babylon... however, like these young men we would be wise to make the decision ahead of time to choose our God over comfort... to reorder our priorities and consider what is just, what is right... and to prepare to stand for what is right... even if we stand alone.
We need to consider Jesus words to His followers:
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own” found in John 15
Reading Hebrews chapters 11 and 12 is always an uplifting experience for me… This passage speaks of these men and women of faith who were all messed up just like we are… but they began to shift their focus and their faith and realized their place wasn’t in this world… I’ll just share this one passage here:
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return”
Jesus words from John 16 speak more to this
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
In Jesus parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25 we read this:
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
We can quickly draw parallels here… the Bridegroom was unhappy because it was clear that He would return to take them to the wedding reception and they were uninterested.
Think of someone being invited to a Royal Wedding as an honoured guest… and then even though they knew the day was near they did nothing to prepare for the invite… in essence they had no dress clothes. This would have been perceived as an incredible insult to the Bridegroom during the time Jesus told this parable.
This parable so perfectly describes the North American Church.
There are many who believe that preparing to meet Christ is political… but it’s not. The stories in the Bible show us that every King and every leader will succumb to the condition of the human heart. It is a repeat cycle…
There are many who think they should just stay quiet and let others suffer at the hands of an increasingly unjust culture… but quietness is often approval as Bonhoeffer discovered in Germany during the rise of the Nazi regime.
Hebrews 12 says…
“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,”
It is on us to decide which kingdom we belong to… the Christ follower will seek a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
To the believer struggling today… those who, like myself are weary of bad news… weary of hurt… weary of pain… weary of the meanness of culture…
We pray together with the Psalmist in Psalms 123
“To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.”
Our God is here… He has not moved nor is he shaken… again as the Psalmist in Psalms 2 writes:
“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
God is in control my friend… so as Isaiah says “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you”
For the one reading this who has struggled with doubts or has not yet asked Christ to be Lord over their hearts and minds… I would welcome you to take this moment and invite Christ to be your teacher and savior. Feel free to message me and I’ll send some Bible passages to grow your faith.
It’s time to seek Jesus together and ask Him to prepare our hearts for the coming celebration and earnestly seek community with fellow believers in the process.