This topic has been burdening my heart for some time. I wrote this post, but then put it aside thinking that it may be too harsh and I’m “preaching to the choir.” Yet, in the midst of my decision to put this idea down, I seem to have lost my writing creativity. And everywhere I look there are reminders, in uncanny ways, so that I feel like God is placing it before me, confirming that it’s on His heart too. So I surrender. Here are my thoughts.
Several years ago, an article called “My Frank Wolf Moment” was published by World Magazine. Per an interview, this Virginia representative stated that there is always a consistent distance of separation between the church and the world.
“…the church (according to Mr. Wolf’s observation) is sliding into debauchery along with the world, just at a slower rate. What is important to note is that this slippage from God is not so easily detected because the gap between church and world remains the same, and so we seem, to ourselves, to be doing OK.
There is a little thing called the “Overton Window.” It is the term for an insight by a Joseph P. Overton that at any given point in the stream of a population’s public life there is a “window” that contains or frames a range of opinion that is currently acceptable. Outside that window lie the ideas considered wacko….Yesterday’s “radical” is today’s “acceptable.” Yesterday’s “unthinkable” is today’s merely “radical”—and, with a little deft manipulation, will be tomorrow’s “acceptable.” Given more time and massaging, “unthinkable” can go all the way to “popular” and then “policy.” “
That is a scary thought isn’t it? Yet, I believe this is true. What was unacceptable when I was a teenager has already been popular, and worse things are now on the acceptable menu for the world, and for many within the church as well. The article goes on to point out that certain people have an interest in changing the public’s tolerances. And yet, ultimately, the church has been informed that it is not against flesh and blood that we battle, but against spiritual, demonic powers. And those powers know that if they can win in the battlefield of our minds, they can subjugate people and nations to their agendas.
In Titus, chapter 1, Titus has been commissioned to appoint elders in every church in Crete, and to get the church in order. Crete was an island with a population that consisted of many sailors. They had some very un-godly influences, and Paul sent Titus a list of qualifications for the type of men who could serve in an elder capacity. Paul put great emphasis on the importance of elders knowing God’s Word well because they needed to be able to teach the teachable and rebuke those who were spreading lies.
Verse 15 states, “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.”
I think a paraphrase would be to say that when the mind believes truth, the conscience functions properly–in purity, and pure actions follow; but when the mind is defiled by the belief in lies, the conscience is also defiled and people embrace sin.
Over the years, there have been areas of my life which God has brought under the magnifying glass. It has sometimes been shocking to realize that something I thought was okay because of its “normalcy” within the church culture was not actually okay with God. As He exposes these things, He calls me to repent and change. I didn’t begin to see these discrepancies until I asked God to show me areas of my life that needed change, but when I did ask, He showed up in a big way. So often, our interpretation of scripture is colored by the way we hear people we trust explain it and see how they walk it out. Correcting faulty understanding and changing my choices puts more distance between my lifestyle and that of the world; it is counter-cultural. It isn’t always easy, but I think that unless families begin to take a stand for what is right and “stand out,” our society will continue to slide away from God.
What I am saying is that it is not okay to blindly slide behind the world, or even to passively plant oneself in place while the world continues to fall into the fire. Instead, we are called to pursue God’s wisdom and to seize a holy life, so much so that we become a force that pulls the world back from the fire they are heading into. I know, that takes boldness; but, Jesus built the Church to be a prevailing, victorious force.
According to Barna Research, 64% of 18-29 year olds who were raised in church are leaving the church. That number is staggering.
If the Godly influences in our lives do not outweigh the world’s influence, and kids don’t see a stark difference between the world and the way many church attenders live, could that be part of why they are leaving?
Our minds are fed by family life, friends, the bend our schools take, radio talk and music, television and games, internet commercials and even blogs like this one. How many other influences can you name? If we add up the regular time we are immersed in Godly influences versus the time we are taking in worldly influences, day to day, how far do the weights tip in either direction?
Can we pray for wisdom about how to bring those things that influence us back into proper proportion, and ask God to show us where we are believing wrong? It is imperative that we spend time in God’s word, and understand it so we can teach the teachable and call out the misunderstandings and lies. We need to have a Godly understanding of right versus wrong so that we have healthy consciences that govern our choices with truth.
We need to start towing the line, and be the influence that serves as a catalyst to pull our households and our neighborhoods back to grace.
This is love.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”Matthew 16:18
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