I recently bought “The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions”, by David Berlinski. In the preface to his book, Berlinski describes himself as “a secular Jew”. Yet he proceeds, with a good deal of sardonic humor, to defend religious thought and demolish the foolishness and arrogance of what have been called “angry atheists”, those who feel that”Science Must Destroy Religion”, as the prominent atheist Sam Harris titled one of his essays.
I pray earnestly that I am wrong, but it seems to me that Christians are about to face an evil the like of which has not been seen in the Western World since nazi Germany. Hatred for religious people has once again been resurrected from the graveyard of nazi Germany – by modern science and philosophy. Just the way it happened in Germany. The temptation for Christians is to try to hide and hope the evil misses us. Can we do that?
David Berlinski dedicates his book “To the memory of my maternal Grandfather, SAMUEL GOLDFEIN…” followed (in German) by Mr. Goldfein’s date of birth … and a list of three nazi prison camps he was sent to. The last entry reads,”in Auschwitz verschollen”.
“Lost in Auschwitz.”
Can Christians reach others and lead them to the Savior even now? Turn the question around: can we sit silent, hugging our salvation to us, while people die without hearing God’s offer of forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Heaven? And can we refuse to be witnesses to the One Who allowed Himself to be executed by torture to open Heaven’s gates for us? Can we be that dishonorable?
It’s time for Christians to gather around the cross, brothers and sisters in Christ. Time to turn our eyes on the empty tomb of Jesus and decide if we will completely commit ourselves to “the way of the cross” during what is probably the last days before the beginning of the Great Tribulation. The Apocalypse.
From a human perspective, we are at a great disadvantage. Not only are genuine Christians in a distinct minority, there are many imitation Christianities which seem to offer a more attractive life. Promises of riches in this life, fulfillment of one’s biggest dreams, “name it and claim it”, soothing or exciting promises, with no self-denial, no holiness required … this “happy-talk” has deceived many and leads them away from the true message of Jesus Christ.
And WHAM! Along comes a deadly new virus. This virus actually puts the “prosperity gospel” preachers at a great disadvantage. Being in it for the money and the privileges that money can buy, they are not going to look too good if their congregations see them wallowing in luxury while the rest of the nation is on lockdown, some sick and some dying. And their promises are going to fail, because they were built on the foundation of a prosperous America. It was the background of an economic powerhouse that made their illusions seem real and possible. When things fall apart, like now, how will their congregations feel about the “prosperity gospel”, or any syrupy, soothing religion?
Things may get a lot worse, and may stay bad for longer than we would like. Because God may be reaching out to those who have been fooled by pleasant-sounding fake Christianities. Remember, many of these people didn’t have good Biblical teaching. Most of America’s churches have gone totally off the rails. So God has created a fantastic opportunity for genuine committed followers of Jesus to be seen taking up their crosses while still thanking and honoring God. And seen to be sharing what we have, especially but not only with other believers. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) The book of James tells us that love is active, not passive.
God just turned up the wattage of “this little light of mine”! We should thank Him resoundingly for giving us an edge in the battle for souls. We should etch in our memories that when things get tough for us, that is because, whether we know it or not, someone who needs Jesus is watching us! We are on center stage now! Not, perhaps, in the media, but in the eyes of our neighbors, our unbelieving friends, and … our enemies. “If they hated Me, they will hate you also.”
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)
From the familiar 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians comes the blueprint of Christian character:
“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. … So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
I’m not happy about what I’m saying, because this kind of love costs. The most famous practitioner of this kind of love was crucified. But a good attitude helps, so I’m going to try to take a positive attitude. I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He loves every person on this earth. I know I’m supposed to first BE an example of Him, and second, BE READY when people ask me, to tell them why I live and think and speak the way I do. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!“
This secular fun song has made me feel good since I heard it, and it’s one way to ignite a good attitude for me. I hope it does the same for you. It’s a pretty good description of how an enthusiastic Christian might talk to God.
We are in the game! We’re not on the bench! Play right, play hard, and give God the honor for the results. “If we win, we praise Him. If we lose, we praise Him!”
“… when [the Sanhedrin] had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then [the disciples] left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Messiah is Jesus.” (Acts 5:40-42)
“Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you, revile you, and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day! Jump for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)
We are no different than those 1st-century believers. We have the same spiritual resources available to us that they had. Armor, for instance. VITAL! NECESSARY! Do not try to fight without it, “… because we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…” (Ephesians 6:12-18)
Abba, we are weak, but You are mighty. Guide us, strengthen us, cleanse us, consecrate us. What lies ahead is frightening. Help these weak servants of Yours to Keep our eyes on King Jesus instead of the wind and the waves. Give us grace to be lights shining in this darkness that bring others to faith in Jesus, in Whose holy name we ask these things. Amen.