Perhaps for the first time in living memory of those of us who are Believers, it is easier not to be a Christian than to be a Christian. Think about the statement for a moment. Is that true in terms of Believers living in our nation and in our time?
By “Christian” I mean a person who has a deep, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, His Son, our Savior. I am not a judge of who has that sort of a relationship with the Lord and who does not. But a deep personal relationship implies a relationship with the Lord that affects a person’s thinking, behaving, hoping, loving and living, a person who knows whether or not she or he is a Christian.
The reason for believing that it is easier today not to be a Christian is because there is no (or very little) worldly advantage in being one. There was a relatively recent time some value in at least acting like a Christian. Church membership often resulted in social and even business advantages. The Christian value system—standards of right and wrong, respect for qualities such as patience and courage and loyalty, and respect for truth seemed to hold back some of our more base tendencies. We did not always do right, but we knew when we did wrong.
In the last few years, continuing to the present, people are turning away from the church, and with it from Christian values and practices. This is a new day with new opportunities and challenges; but by turning our back on the things which mark a Christian lifestyle and world view, we have been loosed from many moral restrictions. We have been allowed to disparage those who disagree with us even to assaulting them. We have been encouraged to live for ourselves, to define truth as what we think it is, to trash our history, and to work hard and fast at using technology and science to solve any problems we discover. In all this the sort of Christian I described earlier is ignored and thought to be a threat to the secular world.
Today is not the first time that being a Christian was more difficult than not being one. World-wide disasters, religious wars, deification of the state and its rulers have produced difficult, even deadly, times in history for those who follow our Lord. But today is our day, so as Francis Schaeffer asked years ago, how then should we live? Here are some thoughts that might help us:
- Don’t yearn for the good ol’ days. Don’t even yearn for the “normal” of a decade or more ago. Instead, consider that the circumstances in which Christians live today were known and anticipated by our Sovereign God. He has given us the resources for this time in our lives and nation.
- Recognize the crises in health, economics, social order, politics are evidence of spiritual warfare. While there is absolutely no doubt that God is already victorious against all manner of evil, God’s timing to reveal that victory is not yet. Therefore, in the middle of this conflict, we must be alert, thoughtful, trained, and equipped for battle.
- Read God’s Word, study God’s Word, internalize God’s Word (listening, writing it out, memorizing, meditating). Ask the Holy Spirit to give us a taste for His truth. Knowledge of God’s authoritative word is essential.
- Pray—at all times pray (1 Thess. 5:17).
Your times and mine may not be the easiest times to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth, an advertisement for God’s nature, character, and purpose, but these are the days God has given us. Let us be faithful.