Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able (Luke 13:24).
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 3:17).
I wonder if God has had a hand in American politics lately.
Despite owning Hollywood and almost the entire news media which pumps out a never ending flow of humanism, hedonism, progressivism, and propaganda, the Democrats have managed to lose control of both houses of Congress, a majority of state legislatures, and governorships. And then there was the presidential election of 2016. No one foresaw a political outsider derailing the Clinton machine. How can you lose so much when you wield so much influence? It seems nearly impossible. But somehow and against all odds Republicans have won the elections and gained control of the government.
With legislative and executive control of government you would think that the Republican agenda would be roaring across the fruited plains like an old fashioned steam locomotive. The reality, however, is more like Arte Johnson riding his tricycle and falling over on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In from the late sixties and early seventies. Other than one Supreme Court Justice, not a single conservative campaign promise that Republicans made to gain political control has been fulfilled. No border wall. No repeal of Obamacare. No tax reform. And no willingness to nix a 60 vote rule in the Senate that is nowhere in the Constitution and threatens to prevent any conservative legislation from passing for the foreseeable future. How can this be?
Sure, you can point to quid pro quo politics, the Establishment Republicans blocking everything the president wants to do, and the never ending campaign politics that puts reelection over governing as reasons why nothing is going the conservative’s way. But as I alluded to earlier…I wonder if God has had a providential hand in it all in order to make a point to the American church. An object lesson, if you will.
What we are seeing in politics is that if you are not willing to stand up and fight for what you believe in, risking everything in the process, it really doesn’t matter how much “control” you have or how much of a majority you possess. Governing comfortably is legislative failure. Can you see where this is going?
Even though there is a huge push in culture for jumping ship from biblical values most Americans still believe in God. When it comes to the Bible, 80% of Americans believe it is sacred literature. Quite the majority. How then, can we be seeing spiritual darkness rising so rapidly in culture when Christians are such a majority? Public schools, universities, and even seminaries have turned into programming centers for humanism. Homosexuals have managed to tear apart the very fabric of biblical marriage that has been the foundation of civilization since there has been such a thing. Responsibility and accountability have been replaced with entitlement and personal sovereignty. Patriotism is now called nationalism and the notion that truth is objective and that morality was introduced to the world in the form of the Ten Commandments is lambasted as bigoted. How can this have happened in a country where so many people claim to believe in God and the Bible?
By practicing comfortable Christianity. Just like the Republican Party has all the power but none of the will to govern so too has the church had all the tools at its hand to transform America into “one nation under God” but not the will to stand and confront sin because of what it might cost.
What’s the least attended meeting in almost every church? The prayer meeting. A churchgoer can’t really feign outrage over coaches being fired for kneeling in prayer after a game if they don’t want to be bothered with a 15-30 minute weekly prayer meeting at their own church. Abortion remains the law of the land, homosexual marriage is the new law of the land, and conservatives are being threatened, beaten, and even shot while parishioners tell their pastors that the pulpit is no place to address social issues. Preach about salvation to everyone who is already saved or find another church. Christian businessmen and women who actually refuse to compromise their biblical values by declining to participate in gay weddings are being harassed, sued, and ultimately driven out of business while churches look away in favor of borrowing millions and millions of dollars building bigger sanctuaries, gymnasiums, and parking lots.
The American church is becoming the Republican Party…enjoying a majority but kicking the can down the road accomplishing next to nothing for the Kingdom of God because it thinks being nice to everyone will assure its future. Like the Republican majority in government the church doesn’t realize that the reason it is the majority is to effect change and transformation. Just as the Republican Party will have a rude awakening in the next election cycle if they don’t fulfill their campaign promises, so too will the church that could have gotten so much done if it had just been brave enough to counter sin in the culture. The words of Jesus ring loud and true in Revelation 2:5, “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place…”
Rev. Don Wildmon (who founded the American Family Association) has said, “All God asks of you is faithfulness.” Faithfulness implies difficulty doesn’t it? Doesn't faith mean doing the right thing despite unfavorable circumstances? Who needs faith if the bank account is doing fine, the kids are on easy street, the flesh is doing reasonably well, and one’s stress level is pretty low?
All Christians know that faith is required of every single believer. And yet, how interesting it is that nearly every single time our life situations get the least bit stressful we hit our knees and pray fervently…that God removes the very thing(s) that requires faith! It doesn’t seem to matter that we all know Paul did that and received divine rebuke: “My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Corinthians 12:9). David didn’t pray that God would divert him from the “valley of the shadow of death” but that even though he knew he had to walk through it “thou art with me.” I like what John Bunyan did with the valley of the shadow of death. He had Christian face Apollyon saying, “take heed Apollyon, for I am on the King’s highway, the way of holiness.” Did you catch that? The pathway through the dark and terrifying valley is "the King's highway"! Bunyan understood. There is no place in life's journey that we surrender to the enemy. Not even the road in the midst of the darkest and vilest valley. It's the King's highway! So too is this spiraling out of control culture.
That is what faithfulness is all about. Faithfulness is John the Baptist who could have remained quietly enrolled in the prophet’s school minding his own business getting along with everybody but choosing instead to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness “Prepare the way of the Lord!” and ending up with his head on a platter.
The church is not called to get along with everyone. We are called to be faithful and that means taking risks and fighting culture wars and spiritual wars. It means getting our hands dirty by confronting darkness and exposing sin (Ephesians 5:11).
Brother Don is right. It really all boils down to faithfulness. Not so much the faithfulness to cry out to God for mercy and help while being assailed in the valley of the shadow of death, but the faithfulness, while beholding the pathway that leads into that fearsome valley, to start walking forward not knowing what enemies lie in wait or what loss we might suffer. Strive to enter. Faithfully obey. Or watch the lamp in your midst get turned off.