“Influence wanes. Mockery and ridicule wax strong.”
An Anglican friend pointed me to a blog called Living Oracles, where I ran into a succinct piece on the current state of affairs:
Tough times lie ahead. The erosion of sympathy for Christians and the faith they hold guarantees this. A period of severe sifting appears about to begin. Other countries and cultures are ahead of us in feeling the flames of persecution. Competing faiths and societal attitudes are quickly turning against the folk who confess Christ and as opposition intensifies so the company of confessors will dwindle. An anti-Christian outbreak seems imminent. It may not be the last and final wave of attack but everywhere it seems that men are growing impatient with the rule of Christ and his faithful subjects. We are out of step with modern mores in morals, religion, politics, cultural tastes and amusements. We will be deemed to be intolerant and loveless critics of the current ways of the world. The peace and privileges we enjoy will be withdrawn. There are too many rapidly developing lobbies that would like to see us removed. Adherence to the Gospel is going to be costly. There are times when God looks upon the earth and faith cannot be found and the love of the many has grown cold. Church and community both, have turned away. The current tide of opinion and events seems to be pointing to a widespread occurrence of faithlessness and recklessness in human behaviour and belief. God may stem the advance of evil and folly but a time of trial may be ahead.
That’s paragraph one. There’s more, including some Biblical encouragement.
Lately, I find myself warning my congregation more and more about how we are on the outside looking in; how there will be fewer Christians and that the ones who hang around will find it costly; that the cultural religion of justification by works (opinions) means constant poking and probing with litmus test faith questions: “Do you support gay marriage? Do you support gun control? Dost thou believe in (fill in the cause)?” Wrong answer = you’re a “bad person.”
Our churches are not havens. They will need to suffer some significant pruning first and even then we are likely to wind up as Gardens of Gesthemane, places of painful passion as we seek God through dark nights.
Too many of our churches continue to make concessions to the culture, hoping that its pats on the head will suffice as a “spiritual experience.”
Too many of our churches are little clubs of untransformed culture Christians, busily fussing over this and that as they grow old together in happy fellowship, leaving a note for the last one out to turn off the lights.
And the ugliness of it all brought something to mind.
Janani Luwum, martyred Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, prayed for his tormentor and murderer, the Muslim dictator Idi Amin. God seems to have answered Luwum’s prayer to an extent. Amin was spared earthly justice, and when his regime collapsed he moved to Saudi Arabia, a place where he could live out his days in peace and comfort among other Muslims.
But that’s a place where the Gospel is not preached, except underground - a place where Amin almost certainly lived in the self-justification of his Islamic identity, never to accept the blood shed for remission of his sins (which were great). So it is likely that he died in those sins, squandering the “grace period” afforded him by the prayer of his Christian victim, and faced final reckoning with only “Hey, I was a Muslim” as his useless plea.
In a fallen culture, among monsters small and great, we still need to pray for them and show them kindness, that some might use the time of God’s patience to hear the Gospel and be saved.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18-21 ESV)
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