Despite the results of the recent election, Christians are still living in a culture that is, at best, largely ambivalent about the things of God, and, at worst, downright hostile.
One thing we have in our favor, of course, is that the Bible describes the world as it really is, and that’s how our Founding Fathers saw it, too. And reality is a harsh, sometimes even brutal, teacher. We hope and pray that the eyes of our secularist neighbors will be opened by that reality and turn to God.
I have deep worries about the next generation, however. When so many have been raised to think that the world owes them everything, that’s a fractured set of glasses through which to see the world. Many are told that they are owed a “safe place” when it comes to disagreeable ideas on college campuses, or that they have a right to be free of microaggressions that might trigger a bad feeling or two. In the world of far too many Millennials, everyone is a winner, everyone gets a trophy, and no one should be made to feel bad or feel guilty.
Of course, the world isn’t like that. Not everyone gets a trophy, and college should be a place where our young people are made privy to that dirty little secret, especially if their parents or the city’s Little League hasn’t already clued them in.
It’s often a very helpful thing when reality becomes known for what it truly is – the way the world works.
There’s a great illustration of this from the movie comedy, The Three Amigos. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short play three actors from the silent movie era. Well-known western cowboy stars known as the “Three Amigos,” they head to Mexico thinking they’ve been invited to a little village to do a live performance against other actors playing bad guys. As the Amigos start their performance, one of the banditos shoots at Steve Martin, grazing his arm.
He looks down at the wound and touches it. Seeing real blood, he holds it up for his two comrades. Then Steve Martin walks over to the bandito and demands to see his pistol. The man hands it over to him, and the actor pulls out a cartridge. Disgusted, Steve Martin holds it up for the other two actors to see.
“Oh, great!” he says to them. “Real bullets!”
Chase and Short snort in disgust. Steve Martin hands the gun back to the bandito and rebukes the man. But the bad guy is not amused. It is funny to see Steve Martin’s face as the truth suddenly dawns on him.
He walks over to his two big screen comrades and says, “It’s real. This is real.” Their horrified reactions are hilarious.
“You mean –?” says Short.
“Yes,” answers a breathless Steve Martin. “They’re going to kill us.”
Of course, sometimes the harsh realities of life cause us to accept the facts and deal with them. However, sometimes they just make us angry. I fear that, for a lot of young people who have been sheltered by the fantasies of the left, their reactions will simply be a ferocious anger.
There’s only one thing that can awaken dull hearts to believe and open blind eyes to see the nature of reality; there’s only one thing that can turn hate-filled hearts away from their anger when reality pops them square in the nose.
The gospel is a message of good news for all our enemies in the ranks of the secular progressives. During this reprieve, the church had better get busy preaching the gospel while we can and pray that God changes millions of stony hearts.
For when the books are opened on the Day of Judgment, it will be too late to turn to friends and proclaim, “It’s real. This is real.”