The Only Hope That’s Left
For many years, I have pondered and taught on the inevitable downward spiral that takes place within a culture that suppresses the truth about God. Romans 1:18-32 tells the story. It is social and spiritual devolution—it’s God giving people what they want. They want a life without Him, and He gives them over to their own desires.
Living in a culture like Romans 1 describes is difficult and painful. The greed, murders, and all kinds of evil wear people down. “Life” becomes increasingly unlivable. People don’t feel safe, loved, or optimistic about future prospects. It can become a grind to just get up out of bed and face each new day. It’s not a pretty picture.
Romans 1:18 says that this downward spiral is the present manifestation of God’s wrath. God is angry at ungodliness and unrighteousness and the effort to avoid and ignore truth.
How are Christians supposed to live in such a place? Let me offer a few suggestions, if I may:
- We are not to become self-righteous, but rather brokenhearted and empathetic. Romans 2 describes the moralist, the one who thinks that because he is able to criticize the sins of Romans 1 he is somehow exempt from judgment himself. We can’t be that guy. We need to follow Jesus, the One who wept over Jerusalem and paid for the sins of the whole world. We need to be like the Father, who is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
- We should engage the people living with us in this corrupt society, not withdraw from them. It would be easy, and is no doubt tempting—to isolate, move, disengage and remove ourselves entirely. But that would be a complete failure on our part to obey Jesus’ commands to be salt and light.
- We should see the degradation of the culture as a great opportunity. The light of the gospel shines brightly in the darkness. The opportunity to be healed sounds wonderful in a hospital of sickness.
We really do need to be like Jesus. Jesus came as a missionary to this sin-laden planet. He was sent by His Father. He listened to His Father, He watched His Father, He obeyed His Father, He operated by the power and authority of His Father.
Now He turns to us and says, “As the Father sent Me, even so I send you.”
Therefore, we are sent by Jesus as missionaries. We are to listen to Him, watch Him, obey Him, and operate by His power and authority.
We’re the only hope that’s left. Christ in us is the hope of glory. There is no Plan B.
I’m totally tracking with you brother. As His followers we MUST follow Him into the places and lives that are in need of “salt and light”.
I had a “reality-check” moment on Saturday, the day after this latest craziness. We did an outreach at a low-income apartment complex. Our college-age group, (Cross-Connection’s) has been doing a homework club in there every Thursday afternoon for about a month now.
On Saturday, with the help of the seniors ministry from the church, we did a barbecue for and invited the whole complex. Before the Christmas story from Luke 2 that I shared, (using the Simply the Story method of storying), I gathered the kids to sing Christmas carols.
I was totally shocked that they didn’t know any of the Christmas carols that were Christ connected! They didn’t know Joy to the World, Hark the Herald angels sing, Silent Night….none of them!
It shouldn’t have shocked me, but it did. These kids in public schools and through the media they are entertained by and the video games they play, are being kept in isolation from any exposure to God, spiritual truth, the source of right and wrong and so forth.
Your second and third points above are exactly what the Lord re-emphasized afresh to me. We MUST engage these kids, (and of course, not JUST kids) where they’re at, right in the midst of their darkness because the only light they’re going to be exposed is going to be the light that we take the initiative to invade their worlds with.
Jeff, I am blessed by your ministry. Your testimony speaks so loudly. What a great example of engaging with the people.
Thanks for sharing that.
Thanks for the post Bill. I’m a little bummed at all the knee-jerk reactions after this, from both sides of the political spectrum, and likewise from the irreligious and from believers. But in both cases, for the most part everyone sounds like a Romans 2 moralist. We are truly living in the days of Noah, when “the earth was filled with violence.”
I understand about your chagrin re: knee-jerk responses. Too often we don’t think through the grid of the Great Commission, through the grid of our basic mission. Therefore, we rant … sometimes unthinkingly.
Yep … days of Noah. An appropriate comparison.
Thanks for the feedback!
Yes, we’re on the same page most assuredly.
The Record Shop I own here in Escondido (Gary’s Record Paradise), is the ministry God has laid before me for about 10 years now, and each day brings new challenges.
Last week, a really interesting thing came about when a person randomly came into the shop and asked whether he could work for some vittles. He’s been to all of the major grocery stores who wouldn’t lift a finger to assist him, as they told him “The times are tight, so beat it!” Being a small shop as the Record Shop is, During the conversation (and having no customers so far that day), I got a word from the Lord that said “Tell him to get OUT, and lock the doors…AND THEN TAKE HIM TO VONS AND FILL HIS BASKET…THEN TELL HIM OF ME!(Hmmm, I thought, this is a weird way of the Lord Spelling it out just then for me!)
Yes, and many folks who’ve come by to shop and buy CDs and Vinyl Records in years gone past, where they came into the shop because music was their ONLY friend, and yet wound-up hearing or seeing the Gospel (Good News) in action.
What you said in the latter part of your post is exactly what the Lord ordered (as a chef might say). We got to REACH OUT to THIS community in its entirety, for there is a heavy Spectre of evil running rampant about town, and that’s precisely why Jesus gave the great and tasty commission, as Mark 16:15 states: He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (NIV), and also similarly in Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (AND ESCONDIDO…add your town here!)(KJV).
Great testimony of the kingdom in action. Thanks for sharing it, Eustaquio!
Good stuff from all you guys.
Really good stuff.