Here’s a good one from our own Lee Pierce. Enjoy! -anita
I just read a short article by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. concerning the church’s role in an ever-increasingly secular world. Dr. Mohler begins his article with a quote from Will Durant, who, along with his wife Ariel, penned a tremendous, 11-volume work entitled The Story of Civilization. Durant’s quote—one which should concern and impact every Christian– is this: “The greatest question of our time is not communism vs. individualism, … not even the East vs. the West; it is whether men can bear to live without God.”
I don’t know, of course, where you stand on the issue of whether America is becoming more and more secularized. From where I sit, there is no question that the forces of secularism are on the rise in our land. Where once the church was the source of many of the good things in society (laws, hospitals, charities, schools, etc.), in our current world, much connected to God and His church is being marginalized and written out of the daily discourse. Which leads me to another quote or two from Will Durant: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within.” And “Rome remained great as long as she had enemies who forced her to unity, vision, and heroism. When she had overcome them all she flourished for a moment and then began to die.”
As I look around at America and the modern church, I see division everywhere. I see hatred, crass opportunism, and egotism taking flight. While I’m only one man and have few, if any, formal credentials to assess cataclysmic societal changes like this, I am able to look around and, in dismay, see much more of what I described above flourishing in the land that I love. And it causes me great pain because so many men and women have worked so hard for many generations to get us to where we are today. We have more opportunities and possessions than any society that has ever been on the face of the Earth; but I fear that maybe all of that is contributing to our demise. It’s a well-worn fact that the church grows when things are difficult in daily life or there is persecution. Tertullian’s famous quote made its way into Steve Green’s song, “The Faithful.” The quote is this: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” It seems to me the last time this nation really came strongly together in a common bond against adversity was during 9/11. How good do we have it? I often thank God in the morning when I take a shower for the blessing of clean, warm water with which to do so. Simply said, so many of the peoples of the earth have no such luxury.
As society pushes ever harder to write God out of the daily life of man, what is left? According to Dr. Mohler, “Concern for the individual, a commitment to human rights, and respect for the good, the beautiful, and the true…grew out of Christian convictions and the influence of revealed religion…[and] are under serious attack.” He goes on to say, “The very notion of right and wrong is now discarded by large sectors of American society.”
And what about the church—not the institution but us, you and me. To quote Mohler, “The concern of the church is not to know its own mind, but to know and follow the mind of God.” Whereas the church held sway in society (more so in the West) for several centuries, things have come full circle, and now the church is forced to deal with a society opposed to its message in no small measure. As was the case in the early Christian church, the church today is on the outside looking in. Mohler adds, “The church must awaken to its status as a moral minority and hold fast to the gospel we have been entrusted to preach.”
I’m pretty convinced that, to be a Christian in America, it will become more and more difficult to live out our Christianity. But maybe you’re like me in this way: I often take my faith, my Christian walk, for granted. I’m generally not called out for talking about my faith. But that may be changing; in fact, our Lord said that it would: “… but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” [Jn 15:19]
No matter what assessment society chooses to make of Christian, faith-based people, we can cling to the knowledge that we know the one, true God, who has a plan for us for all eternity. I can only wonder in sadness at what those who condemn or marginalize us have to look forward to. All the more reason that we, each of us, needs to continue to be an example. To continue shining our light on all of those with whom we come into contact, even if ridiculed. God will always do His part…