When I saw what Fiona was writing for the Ellel 365 News Magazine, I couldn’t resist using her article as a contribution to our Blog as well. It’s a bit longer that normal, but I believe what she covers in this piece is of urgent significance for the Body of Christ.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion: sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near – a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness. The earth shakes, the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened and the stars withdraw their shining. The Lord utters his voice at the head of his army; how vast is his host! Numberless are those who fear his command. Truly the day of the Lord is great; terrible indeed – who can endure it?
Yet even now, says the Lord. Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relents from punishing.
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children; even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her canopy.
Between the vestibule and the altar let the ministers of the Lord weep. Let them say, ‘spare your people O Lord and do not make your heritage a mockery.’” (Compilation from Joel Chapter 2).
We are living in days when our prideful western culture (at least in the UK) mocks those who still believe in Jesus — that’s a belief for the unenlightened mind of an age gone by. Or, as Stephen Hawking, the world’s most well-known scientist has just said “God is a fairy tale for those who are afraid of the dark!” Political and media cynicism have derided those who stand apart as ministers of religion.
It’s very sad that some ministers have lived a life of self-centred hypocrisy – but the whole church is reaping the consequences of their unbelief. And now God is allowing the stones to be lifted, in order to bring exposure to the ‘creepy crawlies of deceit and deliberate sin’ that have lain hidden. However, at the same time there are many more true and sincere servants of the Lord who, although not perfect and are prone like all human beings to failing (like Simon Peter), do love the Lord with all their hearts and humbly seek Him, trusting in the work of Christ and His Holy Spirit with a desire to uphold His Word.
To drown out their voices, their experiences and the voice of the Lord through them would be to drown out God Himself. For God has chosen to speak through human channels and vessels. And for those who want to listen, He is speaking loud and clear directly through His Word, and He is shouting through the events of world history. There is a desperate need for those who know the truths of God’s Word to sound the trumpet, as Joel did in his day.
It is incredulous to watch our political leaders, the finest brains of the nations, top experts of every description, desperately scurrying back and forth in an attempt to find a solution for the imploding world we are living in. This is not intended as a disrespectful statement since it is most admirable what man can do in positions of extremity. Yet, in the face of the onslaught, we are like ants going about the business of our small life in comparison to the massively bigger and more intelligent picture around us that there for those with eyes to see. The striving of man is ultimately futile without the mercy of God.
We are watching mankind endeavour to make human sense of their problems and threats to man’s existence using their finest intelligence, but without personal connection to their Creator. In fact some are doing so with deliberate intention to try and obliterate the very idea of a Creator, through the use of their supposed higher intelligence based on modern-day secularism and humanism.
What answers does mankind think they have in the face of forces way beyond their control? How can they make laws and sneer at those who seek the face of God and want His truth as the basis of law? How can they ignore seeking out those who humbly study and live by the Word of God, who know God like Daniel did and who have witnessed generations of Christian blessing and protection? How can they live in ignorant dissociation from the fact that man was created to be a spiritual being by a spiritual creator? This is surely the greatest stupidity – to believe that you can do it alone without God the Creator! It is hard to get your brain around the fact that the finest minds in our world believe they have the answer without God, only tolerating those who do search for God with cynicism and hypocritical patronage. Why should this be?
One answer is that as Christians, we have grown weak and complacent. Our Christian calling and life has been reduced to church on Sundays and maybe house-group one night weekly – an appearance of Godliness. We have lost sight of the radical call the gospel gives us according to the Word of God. We have reduced the effectiveness of our calling almost to that of patronage of ‘the lost’ or the ‘poor and needy’ neither of which is wrong in itself. However, if it is not harnessed to the law of love — a life of self denial, self sacrifice and self-decreasing that He may increase, we cannot expect to have any ultimate cutting edge. And we must ask ourselves the hard question, are we any different than those who live a secular life? Is there anything attractive about us?
What evidence can we see of the corn of wheat falling into the ground and dying so that multiplication of life takes place? So much of the living church of God is starved of finance, talent, time, energy, vision, zeal and passion. It is time to be honest with ourselves, others and the Lord and confess our sin as it is. We so often live out of a motivation of self focus, carnal attitudes of meeting my own needs, comfort and complacency. These can lead to an appearance of Christian living but do not lead to life.
Why would the world be attracted to such an expression of the Christian faith? Maybe some are, but it is clear that in many areas of the world the church has been reduced to being a good Christian club which does not require anything of me other than to say the right words and to sign up. The world’s values are often in the church, sometimes even creeping into its very foundations. This weakened and watered down Gospel is leaving millions of sincerely believing Christians in a powerless, ineffective and demoralised state in the face of a society which no longer tolerates the Church and has no respect for it.
Another answer to the world’s dissociation from Church and Christianity is its pride. The conclusion has been reached that ‘we no longer need God.’ In fact most if not all politicians have bought into the fact that what they see as ‘religion’ has been man’s problem. To get man to be tolerant, loving and accepting of all is the answer. Our politicians become our God. They tell us through the secular laws of the land how to live morally. But, where are the moral absolutes? Where is the line drawn? How far can you go on being your own god? If I am the most important one, where does it stop me from selfishly leading my own path? Who tells me what is right and wrong, bad or good, sinful or righteous? Where is my determiner of truth and my plumb-line?
By being my own human determiner of truth, I can do anything. I can betray, rob, cheat, mock, rebel, claim my rights and the list goes on. The laws of the land may stop me robbing but what about robbing my wife, children, friends – robbing them of their time, loyalty, trust, personhood and more? What laws are there, what moral code? If there is no fear, no right or wrong, no plumb line – I can do anything. This dangerous slide is out of control.
Recently a couple, in the UK, having lovingly fostered needy children for years, have been prevented by our ‘human moralistic law’ from fostering further children. Why? Because they want their foster children to grow up with an understanding of God’s normal created order, which is male and female marital relationships and reproduction. Instead, our supposedly highly principled human moral code wants children to grow up believing that same gender sex is normal. Common sense alone would say it is not! Creation itself determines that females produce babies and are created to do so by being impregnated by a male. Even the animal world has not disintegrated into such disorder. To lawfully penalise someone for standing by creation’s order and protocol has put man in the place of behaving like a god himself! He knows better, he can do anything and his views have been given authority through the laws of the land. What pride!
Why would anyone think that if there was a God, He would not be angry? If God was angry, how would we know and how would we expect that anger to show? Given the gift of freewill , God has, in His love, allowed man to make his own mind up. God set His laws in His word. Blatantly we have thrown out the relevance of His way. We are doing it ‘our way.’ There has to be a consequence, the law of sowing and reaping is at work.
Surely it doesn’t take much intelligence to realise that man in his pride is walking a catastrophic plank of self-destruction without returning to a Holy God? The gods of relativism, secularism, humanism and tolerance are not the answer to man’s need. They may be what we want but they are not what we need. We need a return to the absolute of truth which is contained in the Word of God which is wholly balanced and relevant for today, containing all we need for life and fruitfulness. We need repentance for turning away from God’s ways to our ways and we need to seek Him afresh whilst He may be found.
May God grant us the humility to turn before it is too late and to know Him who is abounding in steadfast love and mercy and has placed eternity in our heart. All is not lost but found in Him. He is our security and protection in a world which is in turmoil and desperate need of restoration of relationship to a Living God.
We commit those who have been swept away in the tsunamis, the quakes, the fires, the floods, the famines, the wars unto the One who alone is righteous in loving judgment and eternal destiny. We do not allow their stories to leave us unchanged but rather become a force for change in our own lives, as we cling to our God and walk away from our self reliance onto reliance and loving obedience to Him, not counting our own cost. In the face of the world tottering on its pillars, He is our only relevancy. Now is the time to return to Him.
May He give us the grace and humility to do it.