Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Light

It’s been a rough time for Christian conservatives lately. From the Supreme Court’s ruling on homosexual marriage to the shooting in Charleston to the banning in some places of the Confederate flag, conservative culture has been under attack. It can be a discouraging time for godly families.

What kind of world will your children grow up in? What can one family do to counteract the paganism and anti-Christianity that seems to be gaining ground all around us? It can feel like we are fighting a losing battle.

Lately, however, I have found good grounds for encouragement. The Lord has been showing me how we may be facing one of the best opportunities in generations to share the gospel in our nation. Here are some thoughts you may find uplifting.

We Are On the Winning Side
If you’ve read Revelation, you know how the story ends. God wins! Actually, if you read the whole Bible you realize that God is controlling and ordaining everything that happens and using it for our good and His glory. God controls history.

Time after time in history, ungodly people have tried to thwart God’s will. We see it from Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery out of jealousy, to King Nebuchadnezzer trying to stamp out all worship except that of himself. Time after time God not only turns the battle into a victory, He actually uses the activities of the pagans to bring even more glory to Himself. We need have no fear that God is overwhelmed or caught off guard by what is happening in our culture. He knew it and planned it before time began. His side will win, regardless of the way things look from our perspective.

It’s Been Worse Before
A quick look at history will reveal that, rough as these times are for Christians, there have been far rougher times for Christians in the past. And even now life is far worse for Christians in other nations. At first that may not seem encouraging until you realize that out of the darkness and paganism of past history, God has brought the light of His gospel to every corner of the globe.

For instance, out of the terrible persecution of the Reformers came the Protestant church, the Bible in the common people’s language, and missionaries who evangelized the world – including the American continent. God has used – and continues to use – hard times to refine His people and make them into a brighter light to the dark world.

God Asks for Faithfulness, Not Results
God doesn’t give us a “quota” of converts we must make. He doesn’t give us a list of laws we must pass or cultural standards we must implement. Instead, He tells us to be faithful to His Word. When we repent of our own sin and strive to be holy, there are natural cultural changes that occur in our lives. When we “preach the gospel” to others, “making disciples” of them, there are natural cultural changes that will occur in their lives too. The more we are faithful to apply the gospel truth to our lives and share it with others, the more the culture will change on its own into a godly society. It starts with one person at a time being faithful.

The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Light
Have you ever lit a candle during the daytime? It can be difficult to even see the flame unless you’re close to it. But contrast that with lighting a candle in the night. You can surely see the light in that situation!

I’ve talked to many people who remember the “good old days” when everybody was nice and decent (supposedly). But that feel-good culture of the past evidently was only skin-deep as the children and grand-children of that generation went on to create an ever more rebellious society. I can’t help but wonder if the “candle” of past Christianity blended in too much with the “decent” culture of the times. “Cultural Christianity” sometimes makes it hard to witness to people who figure they are already decent enough to make it to heaven on their own, and perhaps it was no different in the “good old days.”

Today, there is less confusion on that score. It’s getting to be pretty clear who is a Christian and who isn’t, who lives by biblical cultural standards and who doesn’t. The “candle” of Christianity is shining ever brighter in the darkness of our current societal paganism. Someone who has wrecked their life with sin is far more ready to hear and accept the gospel than someone who has always lived a “decent” life and has it all together.

In closing, remember this famous passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14. Note that in order to heal a nation, God does not give us intricate formulas for elections or lists of laws to pass or quotas for church membership. Instead, He simply calls His people to be faithful in their own personal lives. God moves mightily in the prayers and obedience of Christians.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Written by Heather Sheen

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