Can you feel the tsunami beginning to form? It will be crashing on our shores soon enough.
And we are not ready.
From Sweden we get the story of a pastor (now jailed) who spoke out on a loaded topic, one that has also resulted in legal wrangling in our neighbor to the north. Christianity Today notes the fallout in “No Free Speech in Preaching”. This is only one topic. What others will become verboten? “Jesus is the only way to Heaven?” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?” Will popular opinion and unpopular politics render the message of the Gospel nothing more than a trailer for a Care Bears movie?
We have made no preparations in the Church in this country to withstand the onslaught when it occurs. We are too preoccupied with thinking that politics is the sole solution, but we have ignored the fact that politics has made all this possible, even on our watch. We can hold off the social upheaval for a while, but the rising tidal wave spawned by a far away earthquake will not relent; we have no other defense but to be prepared. Yet still, we sleep on.
The Church in America learned nothing from the last recession. The second a few jobs came back and consumer confidence rose a few ticks, we plunged back into our stupor. When a greater recession comes, one that lasts for longer and puts more out of work, what will be the response of churches around this country? How will they care for their congregations? How have they built a network among their congregants and with other churches to keep people—both inside and outside the Church—employed, housed, and fed? When the government decides its ever-expanding coffers must be filled during a downturn by taking away the tax exemption for churches, how will your average multi-acre megachurch survive a million dollar tax burden no one expected when the cornerstone was laid?
We are not ready.
With pollster George Barna’s statistics showing a downward spiral in biblical knowledge, solid doctrine, and plain old right thinking, how will we be able to face any future wrath the world unleashes against the Church? People who do not know who or what they believe will find nothing to undergird them when the time of testing comes. Some would argue that a great falling away would only skim the dross from the Church, but the way we run our church infrastructures today would leave us even more vulnerable.
We who worship Jesus are unprepared to become a dwindling minority in our culture. Our beliefs are such that we know we are losing the battle, but we are unwilling to do what is necessary to shore up our own vessels. We have not trimmed the sails and now the mast is creaking while we sleep down in the hold of the good ship Blissful Unawareness. The Bible shows us our error:
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
We are not ready.