When I look at what’s happening across the country, I see a common theme that for the most part has remained unnamed. The current news reports—of demonstrations, restrictions on free speech, increasing numbers of murders and other crimes, hate-filled rhetoric, accusations and “cancellations”—highlight symptoms of a far larger issue. Ultimately, it’s not about politics, or the environment, or even morality and social justice. The root of it all is spiritual.
Pete’s grandmother often decried the cultural changes of the 60s and 70s. I can still hear her declaring, “The world is going to hell in a handbasket!” Now that I’m older too, I can see her perspective. While sin has always been present, it used to be considered shameful, and was hidden away. No longer. Now our culture flaunts its sins, calling evil good and good evil. (Isaiah 5:20-21)
As Christians, we shouldn’t be surprised that sin is increasing. After all, God told us this would happen. “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:11-13) and “Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:12)
While we can’t know the day or hour of Christ’s return, we’d have to be blind to miss the significance of the times in which we live. The age is ending, and people are turning away from God. The question to ask ourselves is, what do we do about it? What are we to think? How are we to live as lights in a world growing increasingly darker?
First of all, according to the above verse, we are to rejoice! Rejoicing seems to be an odd reaction, but consider why we are to rejoice—because Satan’s time is short and Jesus is returning in glory!
And how do we live while we wait for his return? Paul, who also lived in difficult times, has some advice that is as appropriate today as it was when he wrote it:
What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)
Of course, this doesn’t mean to ignore your spouse as if you aren’t married, or that we shouldn’t cry when a loved one dies. Rather, we are to prioritize the eternal over the temporary. We’re married now, but we won’t be in heaven. Those believers we’ve buried will be resurrected. Even our happiness is temporary. Stuff is just that—stuff—and we should seek God’s kingdom, not material wealth.
Our priority must be our relationship with God. He is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He cannot be shaken. No matter what happens around us, He shelters us in the palm of His hand.
What is our foundation? From where do we derive our security? Is it politics—who is president, which party controls congress? Is it our free country? Is it health and safety in the midst of a pandemic? Is it the balance in our savings account?
We can focus on the evil that grows more pervasive every day, wring our hands and complain. Or, we can focus on God and keep His perspective.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? … Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-32, 35, 37-39)