“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near” (Matthew 24:32).
There is a growing consternation among a few Christians, at least, that Christianity is living in the past. It seems that there is no awareness, particularly amongst Church leaders, that we are at war, and that Christians need to be exhorted towards faithfulness, increasing separation from the world and its culture, courageous witness by each individual and increasing martyrdom. Martyrdom, in this sense, may not be putting your head upon the block at the present time, although that time is coming; but present martyrdom means giving up your life in this world to serve, not self, but Christ.
It is long past dark in our culture, but in most Churches it is business as usual, with little “understanding of the times”, or “knowing what Israel should do”; there is anything but the sober alarm that is really necessary in times like these; instead, there is a feeble surrender.
Called to wage war, the Church has opted for a comfortable appeasement, in which the world pays lip service to the professed followers of Christ, while doing their utmost to undo the legacy of His teachings from the culture. It must be said that their success in destroying the Christian cultural heritage of our country has been spectacular; and it has been achieved with very little inconvenience to the leaders of our Churches.
They are able to maintain their dignity and recognition in the eyes of the world; their views and comments are sought on controversial moral issues and when unnatural incidents occur; they are invited to offer some worldly homily on festive occasions such as Christmas and Easter. But there is little evidence in Christianity today, that the Church recognises its powerlessness and, truly, its irrelevance. There is a fear of addressing issues that might be considered controversial lest someone be offended, or the Church be perceived as “intolerant” or “discriminating” or “unwelcoming”.
But it is time to cast off the soft clothing and the apologetic language of modern Christianity and put on the whole armour of God, for the Church is engaged in a battle for survival; not the survival of the Churches as such, for their loss would not diminish the quality of spiritual life and may even enhance it; but the survival of our faith, which is under ferocious attack by the world forces of darkness.
The Church of the 1970s-1990s was surely well described as the era of “beige Christianity”; those who lived through that era remember it as a time when many signs started to appear outside attesting to all and sundry, “All Welcome!”; Churches beckoned the unsuspecting passer-by to “come and experience our welcoming services and warm fellowship”; the most evident desire was to fit in and be thought of as “normal”; the Church was filled with people just like those passing by.
Our theology was deconstructed so as to minimise the possibility of anyone taking offence; Church architecture and interiors were contrived to reduce the feeling that one was in a sacred environment; a form of music evolved which mirrored popular musical culture in style and content, and the language of the liturgy became folksy, the gospel being reduced to a collection of wishy washy offerings with which no-one could possibly take offence. The gospel promised everything and demanded nothing; the act of believing was all that was required.
This was all meant to make newcomers feel “comfortable”; the emphasis was on blending in, and affirming, rather than challenging. If anything challenging were to be offered up at all, it would be on “safe” issues such as protecting the environment; not being judgemental or intolerant of anyone; not holding to our faith too positively in case it caused offence to unbelievers or those of another faith; and similar issues which were finding root in the brave new world, where there was to be no such thing as right or wrong; everything was permitted within the limits that were being defined by the world’s cultural warriors.
The embrace of the world’s values brings to mind Peter’s insistence that what Jesus was saying about His death and resurrection, would never happen to Him. We all know the answer Jesus gave to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan: you are a stumbling-block to me: for you mind not the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).
In the new-age paradigm adopted by the Church, grace became tolerance and faith became “accepting Jesus”. The Church put the sword of the Spirit back in the scabbard and picked up a white feather instead. While we may wish to blame any number of factors for the spiritual and moral collapse of our faith, we cannot exclude ourselves. We, who are supposed to be the light of the world, with Christ shining in us, have preferred to hide our light under a basket and lie low, surrendering the battle field to the enemy. The ruins of our families and culture are testimony to the triumph of error and the suppression of the truth.
Now, more than ever, we need to move ourselves in the direction of being distinctive from the zeitgeist – the spirit of the age that, because we have refused to criticise it or call it to reform, despises any suggestion of influence from the Church. More than ever our faith needs to shine brightly and clearly in our churches and communities; and if a world now accustomed to great darkness calls our light harsh, so be it; for if our light doesn’t shine, there is no light at all. The gospel of Christ is the sole and last hope for this world. It has always been thus.
Simply put, it is time for God’s people to prepare themselves for sacrifice; any possibility of compromise with this world is now unthinkable; our only recourse is to lance the boils; and those doing the lancing will be made increasingly to suffer. But we have to be willing to embrace and endure such suffering in increasing ways in the months and years ahead.
We are at war for our own souls and the souls of people we love. We are at war for the soul of this nation and its culture. And like any soldier, we must train to fight well. We must study our faith and be more committed than ever. We must also know our enemy and his tactics, and we must be prepared to suffer — and even to lose our life.
Christians have to seriously examine themselves against the standards of Jesus Christ, and make some choices about what, if anything, they stand for; what is most important. We must gear up to battle for our own souls and to stop treating lightly the sinful disregard for God’s law in our lives, and those of our families and communities.
This must be the work of every believer who hopes to one day hear the words “Well done; good and faithful servant”. It is not something that is the responsibility of the Church, as such, but of each believer. The Church is more interested in protecting what it has left, than in summoning the faithful to battle; indeed, the Church seems loath to summon people to anything other than what is comfortable. Content with the trivial, meaningless role that the world has allocated to it, it is unable or unwilling to stand up and oppose evil laws that defy the Word of God and condemn our society to further degeneration and satanic domination. If financial penalties, or even jail, are enough to make them shrink from the God-given responsibility to be salt and light to the nation, and to preserve it from these evils, what possibility will there be of blood martyrdom when, with certainty, that becomes necessary?
The silence is deafening; our Church leaders are consumed with the management and daily administration of their corporate bodies, rather than being a prophetic voice to the Body of Christ and to the nation. They neither understand the times nor what the people of God should do; they speak hesitatingly because they do not hear the voice of the One warning from heaven; and they do not hear because they do not have ears to hear the Divine voice amidst all the worldly apologetics which they must take on to appease the spirit of the world. No-one is following because no-one is leading, “For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8).
But it’s not just Church leaders who need to examine themselves; each believer must search their heart and let the Spirit of God shine a light upon the deeper recesses of the soul. Do we really believe, before God, that we are living as Christ has called us to live? Are our children truly protected from the evil influences that abound in the world? Are we ready, if called upon, to suffer for our faith? That suffering can be anything from social disregard, ostracism from corporate Christianity, being fined, jailed or even killed. Does our faith mean that much to us?
The scriptures unequivocally point to a time when persecution and martyrdom will burst upon those who seek to follow Christ unambiguously; clearly, these times are upon us and we cannot sit idly by and hope that somehow things will magically get better. Compromised Christianity has sown the wind; it must now prepare to reap the whirlwind.
It is time to prepare for persecutions that will get bolder by the month and the year. The darkness that marched in under the banners of tolerance, never intended to be bound by it; and, having increasingly gained power, they are seeking to criminalise anyone who resists their vision. We who gave them tolerance will find that there is no tolerance for us; religious liberty is eroding, and compulsory compliance is already here. Parliaments have defied the assertion in the Preamble that underpins our Constitution – We, the people, relying on the blessing of Almighty God –; the courts and tribunals increasingly shift to militantly secular and activist judges who legislate atheism from the bench; our education system from Kindergarten to University is totally corrupt, brainwashing the minds of our young with academic trivia, political fashions and unrelenting atheism.
When will we, the Church, take on our responsibility as the Body of Christ and finally say to the politicians, bureaucrats and social engineers who demand that we comply with evil laws: “We will not comply; if you fine us we will not pay; if you seek to confiscate our buildings, we still will not comply; if you arrest us, we will go to jail; but we will not comply with evil laws or cooperate with evil.”?
Alas, the Church is ill prepared for persecution; each believer will have to face the coming struggle on his own and, quite possibly, in the face of opposition and betrayal from Corporate Christianity; for the marriage of Church and State has always resulted in the persecution of those who choose to follow Christ Jesus.