Thursday, June 16, 2011


Friend Bill offers a positive word for these hard times we are experiencing. He claims a new mood now fills our airwaves and shocks us. He believes this new mood is “incompatible with the traditional and historical American spirit.” He calls it a “mood of pessimism, negativism, doom, and surrender.”

Let me quote a couple of paragraphs: (A WORD IN DUE SEASON/Konstantopoulos/2010:
“We are magnifying our enemies, broadcasting our weaknesses, publicizing our fears, and openly declaring that our foundation and faith are shaky. Our songs are filled with the blues, lacking an affirmation of faith, confidence, and adventure. The rising unemployment, the economical index, the threatening wars, and the possibility of a nuclear holocaust are presented to us as undeterred monsters for whose devouring we should helplessly wait! The effects of such a mood are paralyzing, and it has led us to a procrastinating attitude that steals both time and purpose from us.

“Of course, we face hard times. Without a doubt uncertainty hangs like a dark cloud over us, but should we surrender to the doom-sayers and forget the faithfulness of God? Should we withdraw into the hard shell of self-protection and hang up our harps, and offer no song of joy and no message of hope to a highly pessimistic age? Should we retreat and not advance with clean-cut principles, pursuing our divine purpose and destiny?”

These are hard questions. They dig deep in out gut. Hear what Bill is saying: “The Christian spirit, the Christian message, and the Christian hope can best be exemplified and demonstrated during hard times.” In other words, the proof of the pudding is not how something works under comfortable conditions; rather, how dies it work when life is difficult, trying, even impossible?

American Christianity has enjoyed relative security. True, denominations compete with each other, but the rights of each is protected by government. That is all most of us have ever known. Honestly confession: I have never faced serious persecution, abuse, or loss of life and goods because of my faith, nor have most American Christians.

Bill calls us to a higher standard: “The deeper the darkness is, the brighter the light. The harder the times, the more Christians give of themselves to the spirit of surrender and service.” Life was never cheaper than during the days of Rome’s empire, if you were not a Roman. Perhaps that is why the life of Jesus continues to shine so brightly. Jesus lived successfully and died victoriously in the blackest of times; no wonder, his life shines so brightly.

So I suggest we look to Christian believers in other parts of the world to determine the true worth of the Christian faith. Christian Correspondent Elizabeth Kendall, writing from Australia, speaks to the skyrocketing number of Christian refugees:

Those with financial means may fly out and apply for refugee status in the West, an arduous enough process. However, poorer Christians seeking refuge in a neighbouring state must risk death traversing deserts, oceans and dangerous cities (emophasis added), while dodging bandits and people-traffickers. As the 'Arab Spring' becomes a hot inhospitable 'summer', many Eritrean and Middle Eastern Christians find that nowhere is safe. Elsewhere in the world, refugee North Korean, Hmong, Montagnard and other Christians likewise suffer perilously. Though our Lord Jesus was born a King and Saviour, he fled and lived as a refugee in Egypt for years. Yet even during that time -- which was prophesied in Hosea 11:1 -- God was always in control. Please pray for fleeing Christian refugees.

Global conditions make the following statement by Bill only that much more obvious. He suggests, “Our age calls for a new spirit, and only Christians can offer that gift’s hold on to the faith in a faithless generation.” If you want to see Christianity in action, look to India, China, or a Muslim country where believers continue to increase inspite of facing martyrdom or harrowing conditions at the least.

Bill believes we need to hang on to the promises of God and hope where no hope lives. As FDR said, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

I join Bill in saying “Christians ought to do better than that!” What I would add is this: Now is the time for American Christianity to move beyond its self-centered vision of cheap grace, easy living, and upward mobility, and recognize the inequities being experienced by believers in other places and begin lifting-sharing that burden so that we each share a little more equally.

From Warner’s World,
I have learned that whether it involves the loss of a finger tip or the pain of an injured ankle, my whole body quickly knew what was going on and felt the affects of it. So should it be in the Body of Christ around the world ...

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