June 2, 2023 | By Jay Ashbaucher
This development in our culture is especially disturbing for Christians who respect the scriptures as God’s truth. When Christians try to say anything about right and wrong, they are accused of being judgmental and promoters of hate toward those who disagree. In the terms of today’s society, Christians need to be cancelled. How shall those who know there is such a thing as right and wrong live in such a culture?
The other day, someone sent me a text from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:9-13, that said this: “9 What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God” (NLT). The person who sent it made the comment, “I am tired of hearing about all the bad things going on in the world. It gets to be too negative and upsetting. I want to simply live by verses 12 and 13.” It seems that what this person is saying is that God has a plan for this world and He is moving all things toward his good end. In the meantime, instead of letting the bad stuff happening all around us dictate my feelings and attitudes, I want to simply live my life the way God wants me to live it, enjoying the life God has called me to live, and letting my life speak to others as the Lord deems to use it.
There are other Christians who feel God’s call to try and make a difference in the way their country and world is going. Their motto is this, “All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” True enough, and some Christians are called to do something, but this will be different for different people. Some are called to step into the politics of a wayward world and try to politically and legally change things that are wrong. The rest of Christendom applauds them, participates as they can, and prays for a turnaround or a revival from God. There may still be an open window for that to happen.
Others are called to minister to an apostate church that is not living the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. A segment of the Lord’s church has yielded to the surrounding culture and has gone the ways of the world. It’s like one critic of the church said, “I might listen to your words about being redeemed if you yourselves looked a little more redeemed.” Some people say that revival and change in government must begin with us Christians getting our lives right. As 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God”. Seeing the church’s ignorance of scripture and hypocrisy, some feel called to devote their time to helping God’s people grow so they can be more effective at influencing the surrounding culture.
May God be glorified through whatever we do as followers of Jesus. There is much to be said for being light and salt in the space God has granted to us in our daily lives, whether in a political arena, or in the church, or simply living a God-honoring lifestyle from day to day with those in the workplace and neighborhoods in which we live. May we not lose sight of the main goal of obeying God’s word, including being at peace with as many people as possible, doing good to all, being an example of Christlike living, and sharing God’s truth as opportunities are given.
That being said, if our culture continues in the wrong direction, with darker evil times prevailing, how shall we live as Christians, especially if our society grows to a much more severe level of persecuting Christians? Christians in other times and places have had to learn to survive the temptations and dangers of an antichrist world devoid of all truth. The first century Christians suffered persecutions that severely tested their faith. In many cases, they had to go “underground” to survive. The apostle Peter lived and was martyred during such a time. Perhaps that is why Peter’s letters, written during times of Roman persecutions, has more to say about suffering than any other New Testament book. “The end is near”, He says. And he stresses two key attributes Christians will need to practice to survive. They are hope and love.
Christian hope does not mean “things we wish for”. Rather, Christian hope refers to the future promises of God that He tells are sure to happen. Regarding hope, Peter says to “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). The darker our times, the more Christians will need to focus on the promised hope of God. Hope, of course, is needed for any trials Christians face from day-to-day. But somehow, in our science-based culture, most of our problems can be resolved without having to look to God’s revealed hope as a solution. We depend on human resources. However, when faced with darker times, we must focus on the hope of Jesus’ coming to bring an end to all evil and to establish his kingdom of righteousness. The physical bodies of all believers, whether dead or alive, will be changed in an instant and become bodies like Christ’s. We will no longer die and we will reign with Christ Jesus in a new world of his making. At some point, we will enjoy life on a new earth. Nothing, not even death itself, can prevent this from coming to pass for all true believers.
Christian hope means looking with expectation to Jesus’ coming. This strengthens us, keeps us going, and gives us joy as we suffer through difficult times. Hope provides us with a solid reason for living. In a Nanny McPhee movie, the husband of a farmer’s wife is away at war. She works to keep the farm going as she awaits his return. An adversary pressures her to sell the farm to him, but she will not sell out, for it must be there, along with the family, when her husband returns. News of his death crushes her, and she loses all hope. What she lived for and what had kept her going was the return of her husband. With all hope gone, she decides to give up the farm. Her kids beg her not to do it. Just in time, her husband returns. He had been missing in action and had not been killed as she thought. When what we hope for is certain to happen, it keeps us going. Our hardship will one day turn to joy and happiness.
Besides focusing regularly on our hope, the other thing we need is love. Because dark times have come, Peter reminds us, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another… Be hospitable to one another without complaint” (1 Peter 4:7-9). Jesus makes it clear that his followers are to love one another. Especially, during hard times when people are suffering and will have many unmet needs, there will be great opportunity to help one another. This must be our way of life in those last days. We must also be willing to help our unbelieving neighbors in any way we can. If sacrificially practiced, unbelievers will notice and many may come to know Jesus through our hopeful and loving lifestyle. It is in days like these that people are likely to mock your beliefs in Jesus’ coming, but Peter reminds us to always be ready, if anyone asks, to give them an account for the hope that is within us. If they experience our love for them, the reason for our hope may very well be something they will want to know about. May we be ready at all times, through these days of adversity in a culture that no longer believes in Christian values, to exude hope and to give love.