We’re poor little lambs who’ve lost our way, Baa! Baa! Baa!
This line comes from a Rudyard Kipling poem about soldiers at war far from home who are drinking away their sorrows because they have lost their way. They went to war with vision and purpose but that got lost in the realities of war and distance from home. The poem says in one stanza,
We have done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth,
We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung,
And the measure of our torment is the measure of our youth.
That in many ways describes the church in the USA. We have lost our way. We have lost our influence. We have lost our Hope. We are lost to the Love and Truth Jesus calls us to live for. We have lost our mission. We have lost our prophetic voice. The Holy Spirit, Who is so powerfully at work right now in other places in the world, seems to have quietly slipped out the door while we are engaged in other ideas of church that are not His.
The purpose of Morningcomes.blog is to call out, awaken, and to encourage a movement of the remnant of the church, still faithful but needing a voice, a perspective, a wisdom to stay faithful. There are remnants in various places, but I think in many ways we are like champions in a heavyweight bout who have taken a major punch and are getting back on our feet struggling to fight one more round.
All of this is exactly as Jesus said it would be in the Last Days. The church in the last days for the most part is moving to apostasy. It is asleep, distracted, morally compromised, and so busy with the daily activities in life that they have little time or energy for a significant spiritual life. When the Lord Jesus taught on the importance of being persistent in prayer, He raised this question about the Last Days in Luke 18:8, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” It is my prayer and effort that at least among the remnant Jesus will find those living by a bold, confident faith that compels them into the world to make disciples.
I think there are two major movements in the church in the USA today that have caused the church to lose her way. One is a movement that started in the 1960s and 1970s, mostly led by two men who were most known for the Gospel: Jerry Falwell and James Kennedy. Both men spearheaded efforts to focus on political movements to save America, and with Dr. Kennedy, to bring righteousness to earth all over the world. To Falwell, the majority of America was good, but there was a small group of elitist leftists who had stolen the country. The need was to awaken the Moral Majority politically and bring Christian values to society. In Dr. Kennedy’s theology, he believed the church was to bring righteousness to earth and that in every voting cycle the moral majority would gain influence in a movement that would not only bring righteousness to the USA but would bring it to all nations. These two who came to prominence, being known for the Gospel, lost their way and with them, a significant part of the church also lost their way.
Perhaps the height of this came politically under the presidency of Ronald Reagan. His philosophy throughout his life, brought to climax in his presidency, is that America is the “city set on a hill” whose purpose is to bring light to all nations. To Reagan, America stood for the longing of all people for freedom. But in the Bible, the concept of a city set on a hill whose light all can see is not about a nation, but about the church (Matthew 5:14-16). To the Lord Jesus, the root of freedom is not political. It is spiritual. Only the Lord Jesus can set a person free from the power of sin, Satan, and death. The purpose of the founding of the nation was to give freedom to the proclamation of the Gospel, because only the Lord Jesus can truly set people free.
This substitution of the USA for the church has resulted today in an ambition that seems only to desire to make America great. Today the greatness of America is not defined by classic definitions of freedom, but by financial prosperity and security. We live for no greater values than personal prosperity and security. Greatness is only defined by the American dollar. We have no desires in the world but that our financial interests are always the priority and that we are protected from anything that would threaten our prosperity and security. The American dollar is the measure of all our relationships, dramatically changing the world and even more significantly advancing a vacuum in leadership that a global system and leader will fill.
The evangelical church in this movement has become merely a voting block. We have joined a tribalism that divides politically, not spiritually. The church has lost its voice. In the chaos of spiritual and moral outrage that demeans, diminishes, and divides us. the church is silent. We are divided in such a way that we are either for them in all their political agenda, or we should leave.
While this is happening, another major part of the church is lost going in a radically different direction. The first group who saw “America as a shining light” was birthed by the generation that came out of World War 2. There is a second generation of the church mostly birthed since the 1960s and early 1970s. This generation that came to adulthood in the 1960s, my generation, was a generation of revolution. It started out with the call of civil rights. We believed all the ways people were discriminated against by color should be eliminated from our laws and practices. But the civil rights movement was overtaken by protest against the Vietnam war. That was quickly replaced by the sexual revolution. Freedom was expressed in a sex, drugs, and rock and roll mentality that said evil was the Puritan restrictions that kept us from our freedom to live by our own rules. We were very good at tearing things down. We did nothing though to build anything up in its place.
Paralleling this was the rise of evolutionary theory that went way beyond theories of origins. If man is not a creation of God but a consequence of random evolutionary developments, that means man has no significance as one made in the image of God. Man has no more significance than any other being. There is no inherent purpose to life beyond survival and pleasure. Also, if we are not created by God, there is no moral accountability that we have before God. There are no moral or spiritual absolutes. There is no God to bring eternal judgment or reward. Thus we have to figure it out for ourselves, and no one has the right to tell us what is personally right or wrong for us.
As the church seeks to relate to this generation born and raised post 1960s, a generation raised with evolution as fact and not theory, it has lost its way. It seeks to be relevant and tries to attract people to Jesus and Christianity. In this desire to attract people to Jesus, they have made Jesus and God in their own image. In this method of attraction, God is only love. This God is nonjudgmental, He is incredibly tolerant, and He is just as upset about the world as you are. In this method of attraction, we don’t talk about sin and repentance; we talk about brokenness and healing. In this method of attraction, church is about creating warm, enjoyable places where not only can you come as you are, you can stay where you are because Jesus loves and accepts you no matter what.
To reflect on this method of attracting people to Jesus, I think you need to go back to the lies of Satan in the Garden in Genesis 3. The strategy is the same. The first lie was to deny the clarity and authority of God’s Word. Satan asks, “Did God say …?” In this lie, it is for man to decide what part of God’s Word is clear and authoritative. In many places, in the church that seeks to attract people to Jesus, the Bible is no longer considered clear and authoritative. Principles of the Bible understood and accepted by all the previous generation of the church are abandoned. Issues of sexuality that the Bible has addressed without ambiguity are now seen as having room for different interpretations. Now we no longer need to understand what is truth or not; we just need to learn to love each other, because who can really say, “Thus says the Word of God.”
Coupled with that first lie in the Garden, Satan moved on to a God who does not judge. Satan said, “You will not surely die.” To this part of the church that wants to attract people to Jesus, God is only love. God has no wrath against sin and sinners. There is no judgment or hell to fear. The attraction church would never seek to create a fear of judgment as a key motivation to faith, even though the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. To the attraction church, God is love; He would not put people into torment in eternal hell. Somehow, if you don’t join in following Jesus, you will be eternally terminated. The existence of your soul will end. It’s interesting why eternally destroying a soul is of more comfort than an eternal hell.
The third lie that Satan told is that the most enjoyable things in life are outside God’s will. The forbidden fruit is the best fruit. It is only a rules-obsessed God who has selfish desires that would keep you from the best in life. In Jesus we have someone who loves us no matter what we do, so let’s not make moral conduct an issue.
The church in the USA are poor little lambs who have lost our way. We lost our way through politics, and we lost our way through trying to make a Jesus into a modern figure of tolerance. We have lost our voice because political tribal loyalties are greater than spiritual truths. We have lost our voice through a fear of offending anyone, as it is okay for everyone to do what is right in their own eyes.
For the remnant Christian church, the way forward is clear. We stand unashamed of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, for in it alone is the power of God to save. We have one message to the world: Christ and Him crucified (Romans 1:16-18, 1 Corinthians 2:2). We stand on the Word of God as clear and authoritative and all that we need to know for life and godliness. We believe the Spirit of God moved and superintended through human authors so that what is written is not the word of man, but the Word of God (2 Peter 1:20-21). We believe that God has called all to be holy, because He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). We believe repentance of a self-directed life and a commitment to follow Jesus as Lord, as well as trusting Him as Savior, is essential to being saved (Matthew 4:17, John 14:6). We believe Jesus did not come to destroy the moral Law, but to empower us by His grace to fulfill it as we walk in the truth of His Word and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 5:17-20, Romans 8:1-11). We believe in an eternal place of reward with Jesus, and we believe in an eternal hell of judgment for those who stand on Judgment Day on their own (Revelation 20:11-15, 21:1-8). We believe the church has a simple mission in life to seek to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20, John 20:21). We believe Jesus is coming for His church soon and judgment is coming to the world, so we live with an urgency to proclaim the Gospel (John 9:4).