It is Sunday afternoon, and I have just returned from a three-day golf vacation. Sixteen of us traveled to Bandon Dunes in Southern Oregon and had a wonderful time playing golf in almost perfect sunny weather. Not the norm for this time of year. I am a little tired, but ready to get busy again.
Today I am writing about my favorite organization, the Church. I am not ashamed to say I am a Christian and a member of the Church. As I have stated in earlier blogs, I am concerned about the mix of Marxism in some who are a part of this mystical body, and the gravitation towards nationalism by others within the Church. I think in both cases there is an attempt at unholy matrimony. I am beginning to see that there are others who see this and share my concern. But I am also finding others who see the post-Christian nation that we live in as a positive event for the Church. I would like to write about this today and share my thoughts.
I have just started reading Disappearing Church: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience. I have read the introduction, and I hope I take my time reading this, it is quite good. It begins, “Something has changed. Can you feel it? The air temperature has suddenly dropped, and a strong breeze has descended. The long-watched, leaden clouds of secularism are now forebodingly overhead. Heavy drops splatter around us, promising a downpour of disbelief. Anxiously we look for shelter, for cover, for higher ground.”
I love the elegance of Mark Sayers’ writing style. It creates a telling picture of our current society and its relationship with Christianity. I also see this storm forming. I see the right side of the church connecting itself with horribly flawed ideology, as I see the left side of the church aligning itself with Marxism. Both of these expressions are causing people to leave the faith resulting in the closing of churches and their buildings being turned into Pubs. Those that remain are searching for relevance by becoming like the society they are aligning themselves with, instead of walking counterculturally, where “we die to self and re-throne God in our lives as the supreme authority.”
I have decided that instead of saying that I am going to church this morning, I will use the term meeting. I will be using the term meeting from now on. This was the term used by the Quakers to describe the gathering of the saints. During our meeting today, I was challenged by our Pastor to live counterculturally, and for the last 25% of my life I am going to try and do that. In the context of this blog today, I have concluded that maybe a lack of relevance is good for the church. As we become less privileged in our culture, maybe we will be what God truly wants our organization to be, holy and light.
Jeff Christopherson agrees with this, and his work in CT describes the positive nature of what he calls the “Coming Opposition.” He says there will be seven benefits for the Church during this difficult time. Jeff begins his short article with “Will the church in North America face an increasing spirit of hostility to its accustomed status of cultural privilege? Absolutely!” He argues that due to some of our actions we will experience cultural backlash, which is not a bad thing.
Christopherson states, “the church of Jesus Christ has always resembled her King best when she was in a place, not of dominance, but of yielded weakness.” This is what I took away from the meeting this morning, which is why I wanted to write this blog today. I think the church will encounter a problem due to its support of political powers on both side of the aisle. Some of us support abortion, and some of us support Trump. We have been seduced by Leviathan to be a part of Nimrodian effort to create a new tower of Babel. So as Jeff states opposition will be good for the church. Just what are the seven benefits of this post-Christian opposition?
1. Opposition reminds us of what matters
Fitting in, being liked, and other “tertiary aims” become less important when it becomes a little harder to live in a way you have maybe grown up to enjoy. Commitment becomes a little harder when you don’t really believe something.
2. Opposition weeds out the frauds
Pruning occurs when times are rough. Years ago, when I attended a large church in Costa Mesa, the pastors would warn young women of guys who would be in the church claiming to be Christians to seduce them. This is an extreme example of weeding out the frauds, but there are many people who see the church only as a social club. When the cost of church membership becomes a little higher, people will choose a health club.
3. Opposition raises up prophetic voices
I have continually asked who are this generation’s prophetic voices? In my generation there was J. Vernon MacGee, Chuck Smith, Jack Hayford, and many more. In this generation who are they? I am beginning to see those new voices rising up. Francis Chan, Andy Stanley, Mark Sayers, and others who are now warning the church of coming calamity and the need to repent.
4. Opposition moves people to the margins
I am going to let Christopherson deal with this point. “But when God allows pain and persecution to afflict our sheltered gatherings, it forces His people to own their own faith in the pockets of lostness in which they live, work, and play.”
5. Opposition enhances the need for genuine discipleship
When times get hard we get disciplined. When our budgets get tight, we become of frugal in the use of our money. When we as Christians begin to experience difficult times, we tend to draw closer to our God. We create habits of reading, prayer, and trust that “allow us to thrive outside the sanctuary.”
6. Opposition unites believers
I think Christopherson’s words are best here. “Opposition has an effective way of deflating spiritual hubris. When we awaken to our mission and to the actuality of our true competition, we find estranged kingdom allies in close proximity. And in this kingdom realignment, we discover the spiritual punch that Jesus prayed for in His longing appeal for our oneness (John 17:21).”
7. Opposition increase the number of Jesus’ disciples
Throughout history we see that opposition has initiated a certain purity within the church. And because of the uniqueness and difference of the church from culture people are drawn to the true reflection of Jesus Christ within His bride.
I agree with the two writers mentioned in my blog. I have no doubt that the church will encounter a post-Christian culture that will blame the church for many ills. The culture around us is always trying to discard what God’s desires are, and the last few years will feed that desire and give a certain legitimacy to the effort. However, as Joseph told his brothers, “you meant it for evil, God intended it for good.” The culture around us will attempt to hurt God’s work, but as Leviathan does his evil, God will poor out His Spirt of living water which will make us just that much better of an organization.
And that is my thought for the day!