What does it hold for the Church in America?
Are we nearing the 'end times'? Is God ready to chastise us?
Is it time for a move of God--a Spirit led, all-out Revival?
I believe that the Church in America has been under increasing assault--but not only over the last few years. I believe it's been over the last few DECADES!
First, I need to define "Church".
I do not define the Church as a group of people who meet in a building on a Sunday morning. There may be some members of the true 'Church' there, but not necessarily.
The Church, from a Biblical perspective, is that group of people who have been given new Spiritual Life, by the Grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.
As Ephesians 2 says, "Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.
He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God...But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)...
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." (Ephesians 2:1-10)
The Church is also the 'body' of Christ: "God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself." (Ephesians 1:22-23)
So, the Church is NOT only about those who attend church, but rather about those who have a personal relationship with God, through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Church--as His hands and feet in this world--is to be actively representing Him.
It also requires that we actively worship Him, and follow Him closely--no matter what the rest of the world does.
And therein lies the problem.
The rest of the world--and society in America, in general, is (I believe) moving further away from the Lord.
Our culture is increasingly rejecting the Word of God as the authority for moral guidance and behavioral standards--a function we have, historically, welcomed.
This should not be a surprise--after all, the Apostle Paul, moved by the Holy Spirit, wrote
"You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!" (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
In other words, as time goes by, and as cultures reject God and His Word, things will get worse for that culture!
That culture will then become increasingly hostile to the Church, and the Church--if not strongly rooted in the love of God and the Word of God--will crumble. Individual Christians--if not firmly rooted and grounded--will crumble, capitulate, and compromise.
We cannot let that happen!
As Paul wrote to the people in Colossae, who were also enduring increasing hardship,
"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority." (Colossians 2:6-10)
We MUST become those who persevere! We MUST sink our roots of faith, belief, and practice deep into the soil of God--His Word.
We MUST be led by the Spirit into a life of uncompromising boldness, even if it means that we are increasingly marginalized, attacked and targeted. We must insure that our character is that of a true "Christ-follower"--being always loving and gracious, but always truthful and holy as well.
We can't keep waiting for our culture to 'get it'. They may never. We need, instead, to lean on the Lord for wisdom and strength, and to encourage each other--"all the more as you see 'the day' approaching". (Hebrews 10:25)
So what do you say, Church?
Are you ready?
Are you willing?
Let's follow Him, no matter the cost!