7/15/2014 5:00:00 PM
At our recent Dominion Camp Meeting our senior elder, Bill Canfield, had a compelling conversation with a former Valor Christian College student and staff member who is now ministering in New Jersey. He and his wife are the parents of young children, and they wanted to go somewhere for spring break.
They settled on our nation’s capital, and what this spiritual son of mine learned there and shared with Elder Canfield has stuck with me ever since.
Not finding a place to park near where they wanted to go, the family parked instead near Union Station and took the train into the city. After sightseeing, they took the train back to Union Station and immediately heard sirens and voices on the loudspeaker warning them to evacuate the building. They wanted to leave the building anyway, so that wasn’t difficult.
But then this spiritual son of mine noticed that despite the sirens and the other warnings, as many people were streaming into Union Station as were leaving it. He even stopped one man to tell him the building was being evacuated, and the man brushed him off and strode into the building anyway.
Driving home, my spiritual son prayed something like, “Lord, I don’t understand why we came down here. We didn’t see anything we had planned to see. It was a wasted trip.” And then, he said, God answered. The answer was that God had wanted this man to see a metaphor for our culture today: the crowds ignoring clear signs and doing the opposite of what they should have done. In the midst of an urgent situation they were proceeding as normal, as though everything was OK, even though it wasn’t.
It sounds a lot like a warning Paul delivered to the church he founded in Thessalonica:
“Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, ESV
It’s not difficult to find other situations in our culture in which the world is going the wrong way and Bible-believing Christians understand what is right, but don’t respond with a sense of urgency. The nation of Israel has been under attack for several weeks now, and is being vilified for defending itself against terrorist organizations that challenge the nation’s very right to exist. The Bible commands us to bless the nation of Israel, but many Americans, including some parts of the Church, have a strange way of doing that.
In our own nation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, yes, a family business had the right to operate according to the tenets of its faith, even in the face of government regulations. Those regulations, incidentally, had ignored the concept of religious liberty – a once-sacred concept in America – and a 20-year-old federal law that forbid the government from substantially burdening its citizens’ faith-based beliefs.
The backlash, incredibly, has come not against the executive branch that imposed the burden in the first place, but on the court that ruled that the executive branch wasn’t following the law! As a published author once remarked, we are living on our heads.
This week, legislators in Washington will engage in a singularly meaningless exercise by voting on a bill that is intended to get around the court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby
case. It’s meaningless because the other chamber of the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives, will let the bill die until the end of the current session of the Congress. But it’s an indicator of the mindset of some in Washington – that the rules are to be followed until they are inconvenient, and then are to be ignored in pursuit of what’s convenient for the government. Tragically, this mindset has infiltrated parts of the Church as well.
Those are just two examples of what is happening on the world stage and in the national arena. What’s happening in your neighborhood? Is there a family living near you that is nearing a crisis of some type that would be solved by injecting the love of Jesus Christ? I’ve often said that it’s pointless for a believer to ask God to give him or her the nations when he or she hasn’t been next door.
What are the urgent signs that are happening around you today? And how are you responding? I hope you’re as chastened by Paul’s words as I am, and have a new commitment today to be sober, as children of the day.
- July 15, 2014