“We will proclaim with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Yet we avoid life in the shadows with evangelical fervor. We prefer applause, acclaim, and attention.” (Steven C. Lombardo)
I believe Christians are living in the most dangerous and challenging time facing the church.
It is true that in America, Christians do not stare persecution in the face with real prospects of imprisonment, beatings or threats to their immediate family. It is true that all Americans have the freedom to leave their homes in peace and worship at a public church building. It is true that our country is not involved in a war where fighting and gunfire resonates in the street and anarchy threatens to topple our democratic government that was based on biblical principles. However, the greatest dangers facing Christians lie in the unseen distractions and obstacles that lay hidden in well-concealed traps. Comfort begets callousness. Materialism begets apathy. And like a fog rolling in on the rocky coast, the light of the gospel teachings of Christianity is soon blurred an indistinguishable. The salt of the biblical law is washed away in the mist of tolerance.
This point in American history is one of the greatest challenge for Christians. And the worst thing the devil can hope for is adversity. Because adversity sparks repentance where blessings can cause forgetfulness.
It seems that more and more Christians these days are looking to Jesus for answers, but not in ways that you might think. Instead of asking for Christ for strength, discernment and power, they are looking for Christ’s return. Natural disasters and other signs of the apocalypse are creating widespread rumors, even hope, that Christ will come soon. The recent billboard campaign predicting an October return of Christ was greeted with great enthusiasm among Christians, and skepticism from most. Why? America is teetering and people know it. And due to affluence, people don’t know where to turn.
Are Christians today avoiding “life in the shadows” or are they relishing in it. Change will not come from a spiritual leader with great charisma who preaches a gospel based on self-help. True change will come from the shadows, from the grassroots, who are choosing to love their neighbor by taking the first step in getting to know them, then sharing the good news. But, too many people are relishing the shadows, choosing a distracted life that focuses on pleasure rathern than self-discipline. In other words, they talk a good game, but have great difficulty living it.
But there is hope. A light still glistens in the horizon. Prayers of the saints still keeps the lighthouse alight in the coming gloom. And with Christ, there is always hope.