Where do we draw the line in the sand, O Church? When ideology and idolatry feed the people, where do we find our sustenance? What fuels our spirits to endure the life that we must lose in order to find the one that never dies? Is your vision of Jesus or of the pleasures that surround you? Is it the power of a nation, of a man, that propels you? Or the cross of Christ and the hope we have through His resurrection?
Strengthen yourselves by way of the Scriptures, Ekklesia; with prayer and fasting, lament and intercede for your neighbors- the ones who claim to know Christ and the ones who don’t. Serve them. Love them. Because the time for war is fast approaching. The spiritual forces are seething, eager to confuse the faithful and securely bind up those already walking in darkness. Are you ready?
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:6-11, ESV, emphasis mine)
Empty words are a dime a dozen these days. Do not let yourselves be fooled by persuasive arguments. Something may sound true, but test it against the Scriptures. Does it indeed fall in line with the truth of the Gospel? And not just some of it or most of it, but ALL of it? Because that right there is often the deception- when an ideology or belief sounds mostly right and is just convincing enough to entangle the ones who lack the diligence to question the tiny problematic pieces.
“But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, AMP)
Test ALL things. Every. Single. Thing. Expose the darkness. Call it out. Speak the truth!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man born to German affluence, who lacked no good thing as a child, and had everything he could possibly need at his disposal as an adult. And yet this man, intensely driven and thoughtful even as a young child, recognized a deep sickness within his own church, a church that eventually came to be called the Reich Church and adopted such doctrine as the “Aryan Paragraph,” which stood in direct opposition to the message of the Gospel.
“Meanwhile Dietrich had become quite desperate. Precisely because for him the church was the visible form of Christ on earth, he could not remain in a church which betrayed Christ.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wheel, p. 76)
The lack of support and understanding from other pastors and church leaders drove him into his own personal wilderness of theological discovery and eventual rejection of the comforts and security his life afforded for the sake of Christ and the message of the Gospel. He eventually fully embraced the cost of following Christ by exchanging personal comfort and security at his church post in London, and returning to Germany to strengthen a new body of believers who called themselves the Confessing Church, which vehemently opposed the national Reich Church. In doing so he knowingly and voluntarily entered into suffering and persecution, and ultimately death by hanging. He was driven by his love for Christ and the Church to expose the darkness.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21, ESV)
I implore you, as believers, to carefully evaluate the beliefs you hold. Is there something disguised among the good things? An almost imperceptible, invasive thought or ideology that has crept into the corners? Maybe it sounds good on the surface, but if examined and dissected it would fail to add up to the truth of the Gospel. Take some time to consider it. Write things down. Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the hidden things and bring them to light. I promise you He will.
Dietrich did not defend an ideology. He defended the cross of Christ- not another group’s idolatry, but the Gospel of the risen Christ and the “communion of saints.” I ask you, what truth about Christ is being demonstrated in the raising of a flag? In the violence born from injustices and hate?
Where, O Church, is your voice? Where are you in the fray of all the chaos and destruction and suffering? Do you hold whispered conversations in back corners, creating defenses for your silence and inaction, or for your support of the madness that rages? Does a man sit on the throne of your heart, or does God?
As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego prepared for their death because they refused to pay tribute to the gods of this world, so too must we the Church of the West, a church so profoundly steeped in comfort and convenience, prepare for the persecution of all who call on the name of Jesus and refuse to bend a knee in compromise. Do not let fear paralyze you into inaction. Pray, dear ones. Pray without ceasing. Search the Scriptures. Prepare your heart for the days to come. Because the earthly cost may be severe, but the reward is eternal.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13, NIV)
Peace & Love, Amy