In the maelstrom of confusion resulting from our nation’s moral collapse, it can be overwhelming to think that for a child of God, nothing has really changed.
The Lord has never suggested that we were going to be in for an easy time of it here and has even spelled out clearly that we would find ourselves persecuted (see Matthew 5:10-11, Luke 21:12, John 15:20). Why? Because of our confidence in the uniqueness of Jesus as God’s Son as the only provision for the forgiveness of sin as well as our trust in His Word — by which I mean that we trust it and live our lives in accordance to it.
Even so, it is time right now to rally love and support IN TANGIBLE WAYS for those around us. These troubling times should be a season in which God’s people, Christians, gather in force to mobilize resources to declare the reliability of the Bible while serving as instruments of grace in the lives of those around us.
This is a season of faithfully seeking to live holy, consecrated lives while we reach out with the love of Christ, that we might actively love people about us in various kinds of crises, whether from crushing financial burden, addiction, the consequences of immoral choices or the breakdown of families. Doing so allows God to address also a person’s spiritual crisis — their need for salvation (forgiveness of sin and the assurance of eternal life).
The greatest crisis which we face, of course, and face immediately is that of the complacency of the Church in the face of human evil and the imminent judgment of God. There are mercifully some shining examples of God’s people giving tirelessly and selflessly to others and of enduring rejection and loss (even of life) for the sake of remaining faithful to the Savior Who endured the cross for us. There are also many horrific examples of men and women who clearly do not know Christ and seek to not only overthrow God’s authority for their own lives, but to utterly annihilate the prospect of faith in others.
What must we conclude about God’s perspective on the matter? As painful as it is to acknowledge it, we must observe the “judgment factor.” Biblically speaking, does God or does He not judge sin? He does. Has He or has He not decreed judgment upon entire cities and nations for their sin? He has.
It would be a terrible mistake to assume that individuals we know who are deeply suffering are singled out and are especially deserving of that judgment. In our pride, we often assume that another’s suffering is the result of their own sin and fail to see that perhaps his or her pain has been brought on directly or indirectly by my sin.
But we are a foolish people indeed if we think that we can arbitrarily “thumb our noses” at God for years with impunity. Indeed, calamity, sickness and other kinds of struggles are not directly the arbiters of judgment so much as an increase in disregard for authority, a decrease in valuing the sanctity of human life, and an embracing of immorality and impurity.
“… God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever!” (Romans 1:24-25 ESV).
Of all the judgments we envision for ourselves or cast upon the movie screen, the one we don’t understand is the “giving us over to our own lusts.” Satan has convinced us that therein lies true freedom. What it really has for us is only the horror of what we selfishly do to each other and, even worse, our choosing something less than the perfect glorious God Whose own Son was given for us. In the end, the worst judgment of all is letting us have, in our rebellious condition, what we think we want: the “freedom” to perish spiritually.
A person who has no view of God’s glory doesn’t get this. He will say, “This isn’t fair!” He will accuse, “God has no right!”. He will ask, “Who does God think He is?”
“The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries and keeps His wrath for His enemies” (Nahum 1:2 ESV).
And what can we expect for our land if we fail to repent and continue to pursue the idols of selfishness, pride, luxury, oppression, and immorality?
“The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will execute judgment upon her images, and through all her land the wounded shall groan” (Jeremiah 51:52 ESV).
“Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes” (Joel 1:15 ESV).
But lest we think that others will be especially singled out and that we somehow are above judgment, be careful.
Jesus addressed a similar misconception during His earthly ministry when some people believed that judgment had befallen some Galileans who had been targeted.
“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-5 ESV).
So how must we respond? My prayer is that we will hearken to Jesus’ warning and repent.
“‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the LORD, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, ‘Spare Your people, O LORD, and make not Your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ Then the LORD will … (take) pity on His people” (Joel 2:12-18 ESV).
Though we are wise to fear God’s great wrath with a holy reverence and awe, we have His assurances that His mercy and goodness are available to us if we’ll just choose to receive them. This is especially true and relevant for those who place their hope in the Lord Jesus for their eternal salvation.
“… Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Acts 2:21 ESV).
Isn’t it good to know that “the LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7 ESV).
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at [email protected]