Are you surprised by the increasing hostility toward Christianity in our country today? Has it taken you aback? Those of us who still cling to faith in Christ are increasingly being made to feel foolish or backward for our beliefs, to the point that discrimination is an imminent possibility; even actual persecution in the not too distant future is no longer an absurd concept.
“…They will hate you because you believe in Me [because you’re being stubborn and won’t “get with” the “progressive” program]. At that time, many will lose their faith [“no one” believes it anymore–how can it be true?], and they will turn against each other and hate each other [not surprising; that’s what happens without the Holy Spirit’s influence in us]. Many false prophets [yeah–they’re not going to stand up and call themselves prophets; these are the voices our culture hears in the media, academia, politics and popular science] will come and cause many people to believe lies [something that IS NOT TRUE–remember the old advertising adage, “if you repeat it enough people will believe it?”]. There will be more and more evil in the world, so most people will stop showing their love for each other. BUT THOSE PEOPLE WHO KEEP THEIR FAITH UNTIL THE END WILL BE SAVED. (Matthew 24:9-13 NCV)
This generation doesn’t have a monopoly on sin–just listen to the lyrics of some seventies or eighties pop songs! But the situation does seem to be going south. One of the first things you notice in even a superficial study of the decline of Ancient Israel (you knew there was a reason all of that “boring stuff” is there!), is that they didn’t hit rock bottom instantly. A godly ruler was followed by a bad one, then a good one again and so on–until eventually, the downward cycle hit bottom and it was over. Defeat and conquest come, but typically after a period of decline. It’s the same with any nation; there is a longer downward moral progression before the end–which I believe we in the U.S. are in right now.
Recently, Netflix remade the highly popular (yet nonetheless very dark) Japanese anime “Death Note.” The original was a classic moral dilemma: a successful young man who has it all happens upon a magical notebook–one in which simply writing a person’s name causes them to die. It was an examination of our fallen human nature–how an initial misguided but well-intentioned desire to punish criminals who’ve “gotten away with it” grows into a god-complex that is sin for sin’s sake.
The American version was significantly rewritten from a behavioralistic perspective, however–presumably, because we wouldn’t be able to comprehend how someone who “has it all” can fall into moral decline. The protagonist is now an underdog with the deck stacked against him from the start, so when he acts wickedly we find ways to excuse and rationalize his behavior instead of simply recognizing that he has chosen to do what is evil. Christians, of course, understand that sin is not merely a result of our outward circumstances; these can certainly tempt us and make it easier to do wrong, but at its root, the problem stems from our fallen sin-nature, and anyone can sin.
What about the popular Game of Thrones series? An entire season was devoted to a character’s brutal abuse, yet even more amazing is this was never in the book–IT WAS WRITTEN IN PURELY FOR THE VIEWING TV AUDIENCES! But what do examples such as these have to do with hostility toward Christianity? And how is all of this related to today’s verse?
The point is that as we, as a people, walk away from the knowledge of God in Christ, we walk increasingly toward various forms of evil. Sins like rebelliousness, dishonesty, even adultery are no longer enough to satiate our cravings; more and more we crave violence and every other other form of perversity and wickedness. Popular media created for our audiences is merely a reflection of this.
Of course, there has always been violence and perversity, but it has been generally isolated to the location where it occurred. Now–with the amazing technological advances of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries–evil that is done anywhere is publicized everywhere–and it is becoming increasingly difficult to isolate yourself from it without removing yourself from society at large.
And, as society is exposed to increasing godlessness, it looses its understand of good and becomes increasingly hostile to it–initially, this leads to condescension toward those who adhere to Biblical beliefs, then to intolerance of those beliefs, discrimination, and eventually even to outright persecution.
We’re not there yet, but neither do we typically hear people openly talking about God in non-church settings anymore. Yet Jesus Christ calls us to do just that–to be the salt and light of this corrupted world–but how do we do that if our convictions and faith are “secret?” To the degree that we remain anchored in the Bible and God’s words remain in us we MUST speak out. As we interact with others in our daily life, we must not be timid or afraid; when appropriate and as His Spirit urges us, we MUST refer to Him, quote Scripture, and speak freely as if God and what He says is a natural part of life–because, after all, ISN’T IT?
Help us not lose our faith as the world gets worse; rather, help us be salt and light to those around us as You intend us to be! Amen.