"Have you not asked those who travel the roads, and do you not accept their testimony?" (Job 28:29)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Be Transformed!

As attested by St. Paul to the early church at Rome, each Christian is set apart from the world. We read…

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.” (Romans 12:1-3 RSV)

The statement seems one concerning Christian responsibility. We of the Christian faith are set apart from the world, and called to sober judgment about ourselves and the time in which we live. Take this to heart, for we are viewed as threat by principalities and powers within an age now focused on human and socialistic universality. What’s more, I truly believe the church found in the American realm is slowly and somewhat unknowingly being diminished in power and number.
The evidence of this societal world course was recently highlighted in a newscast about the tensions rising in Scandinavian nations. The tension is claimed as due to rising numbers of Muslim population growth. This growth is now creating tensions as religious intolerance trends emerge. Though the political call there is for increased tolerance, the tensions present are not confined, and violence is breaking forth in these nations now in the news. As well, recent societal racial and religious unrest is also noted among other European nations and our own continent. I believe the instability is symptomatic of a general decline in our Christian influence in the post-modern world.
Am I paranoid? Possibly. But I do think we of the American church should thus note the causes and live prophetically in coming decades. Let us be aware of the forces in the world that are poised over against the spread of the gospel and growth of the church.
To make my case, first consider trends in church birthrate and the act of abortion. Many mainline, and mostly Protestant Christian church denominations, now have diminished negative conversation concerning the taking of human embryonic life. Often touting human overcrowding and family financial limitations as justification, we in American expressions of the mainline Christian church have reduced our birthrate below the normative worldwide rate. Our baptismal numbers are thus abysmal. Catechism classes wane, and church populations are in decline across the congregational spectrum. These factors persist, yet denominations such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (ELCA) freely fund abortions through insurance carriers as elective medical procedures. In this subtle way leaders and clergy support pro-choice political agendas, and seem to make their denominations a sacrifice on an altar more acceptable to modern societal standards.
The church is satanically and sinfully being de-populated by these trends! Like a frog being boiled, the water in the font is therefore heated slowly and we are too self-absorbed and ecclesially comfortable in navel gazing to be prophetic and notice the changes.
As of late, many of our mainline Christian denominations also now embrace alternate lifestyle unions in clergy positions, and claim that these relationships are without sin. Thus we ignore an ancient ban within the faith passed on by ancient Hebraic society which furthered growth within the tribal systems of the chosen people. We ignore biblical mandates against homosexuality, thereby allowing the example of a self-centered humanism mired in non-reproduction to impress the church and affect the ranks of laity. What is more abrasive, is that we then have the boldness to raise complaint before God about dwindling church populations!
Because we are thus considered now as “alien residents” wending our way through a gospel resistive American culture, we also take note of rather nominal reception to proclamation in modernistic society. Rampant and resistant agnosticism feeds the non-procreative thrust until our youth consider marriage as passe’, child-bearing as financially lame, and church membership viewed as party to an archaic lifestyle. This slide into personal agnosticism and atheism is forwarded by many public education systems that challenge the traditional sexual norms, family cultivation, and the religious anchors of a faith community. If we factor in other modern geographic challenges posed to the maintenance of family connections, as our children mature and go into society, we find ourselves having communications with them only through electronic social media, wherein we see the numerical growth of real church community and family structure under great peril.
Prophetically, I say let us therefore join together in Christian community and pray to the Holy Spirit for forgiveness of sins, for the growth of the church, and the future of our witness.
Would the granting of these things put us in world-space competition with other populations and religious expressions… surely! But allow the scriptural record to teach us that in spite of persecution, peril, and more, God shall preserve the faithful church even though it becomes remnant. Remember truly that God rejoices in our abundance! Let the historical record of the people of God provide witness as we break away from destructive societal influences within our number, and remain faithful to our calling from Christ to proclaim the gospel. Thereby through divine power and guidance the church shall indeed be transformed to emerge triumphant though seas boil from the subtle activities of the satanic realm. Lord.., we pray, let it be so.

1 comment:

Pastor Preston said...

Mother Teresa spoke to the social poison of elective abortion [in the late 1970's or early 1980's]. Her prophetic voice announced the direct effect of dehumanization of the entire society until this evil is repented of and ended. Our society models addictive behavior in many ways. In this particular issue, the issue that human life is either sacred or it is not, the Biblical witness is the only hope for the society/nation. The society may indeed "hit bottom" before the truth sets the survivors free. As regards the future of the one, holy, catholic, apostolic church in North America, the Hispanic social norm rejects abortion, rejects homosexuality, and takes seriously God's own establishment of family as the "first church." TB, you have honestly named both the poison and the only antidote.
sdg. Preston