There can be no doubt or dispute that the demise of our brethren under the sword of persecution is brutal and grievous. Only the Holy Spirit’s power can enable one to endure, with courage, such unimaginable demise. While some may have lived as nominal Christians, the edge of the sword radically defines their faith and eternal destiny. Jihadists publicize these devilish deeds to evoke fear and dread, yet testimonies reveal that a living faith is coming forth through the fire.
We however in the west, ‘west of Jerusalem’ that is, are thus far not facing execution but nonetheless have defining moments to declare Christ and be His testimony to the world. One might imagine that, within this window of relative freedom, Christians might rise up and stand against the consuming tidal wave that looms over our lands.
The tidal wave is not sin, we are already living in that endless flow. The coming tsunami is the looming judgment of God. Compromise and complacency expose our unbelief in this prophetic truth, a gross negligence since our call is to proclaim Christ’s return as “Righteous Judge”.
How have we, as the church, become so irrelevant and powerless? The professed Body of Christ no longer stands apart from the world with open arms to the broken and confused. No longer pillars of truth, upholding God’s unchangeable standards, we want to ‘belong to’, ‘fit in’, and ‘prosper’ – we certainly don’t want to ‘die’.
To fit anywhere within the world’s lofty standards requires disavowing the righteousness of God – the very standard by which we will be judged.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Prov 14:34)
Few voices are left to even speak of God’s righteousness, when nearly every page of Holy Scripture declares God as righteous – upholding, defending and proclaiming righteousness. “The Lord loves righteousness…” and “…will judge the world with righteousness” are inescapable truths throughout scripture.
As the professed Body of Christ increasingly merges into worldly standards, we are detaching from our “Commanding Officer”, Jesus the “Righteous One”. To our own spiritual demise, we are cutting off our own Head, the only true source of power, discernment, and promise. Accolades and popularity, even prosperity replaces intimacy with the Lord. Do we realize our own ideas and efforts are worthless? “Apart from Me you can do nothing” declared the Lord, nothing of eternal value.
The defining line between the world’s lofty standards and the Body of Christ is the righteousness of God. It is the measure by which the Holy Spirit convicts man of sin and upholds the Cross for forgiveness and eternal life. Yet, it is a central stumbling block for the professed believer in this world – a truth against which many will align with the world. The spirit of this world holds great contention against the righteousness of God – changing God’s standards, redefining sin and the ‘wages of sin’. Ultimately diminished is the expression of God’s great love, the high price He paid to redeem us from sin and cover us with this righteousness.
What is the ‘Great Apostasy’ if not the cutting off of Christ, our Head? Are we not now in this great apostasy, “refusing to love the truth and so be saved”? Have we not willingly received a ‘powerful delusion’, the same lie birthed through Satan in the beginning: you can sin and get away with it – in fact, it is not sin at all!
Coming out from under Christ’s authority and preeminence has great and lamentable consequences. Apart from Him, His protection and promises to deliver and defend sadly fade, as will His presence in our midst, through the storms and wilderness, and His living word spoken like salve to our heart. Yet, as we near the precipice of perilous times, He continues to call His sheep back to follow.
Self sufficiency brought fleshly confidence to the western church, dethroning the authority and preeminence of Christ. Contorting, even dismissing, the Word of God to redefine sin makes the Lord more palatable and acceptable to the world… ‘palatable to the world’ but nauseating to the Lord. Like the Laodicean church, we are increasingly becoming a headless church, standing in the danger of misrepresenting God.
In His mercy, the Lord will awaken His church, revive His Body, with divine calling, powerful shaking, painful discipline – even orchestrated crisis. He will have a testimony on this earth through true believers. Our desperate cry for His presence and promises will define our faith and strengthen allegiance to His Word and His authority over our lives.
The Lord Himself will empower us to stand and represent Him. Endowed with His wisdom and discernment, we will have a word for this generation and add to His Kingdom. Walking in His shadow, our short lives in this world will count for eternity.
“Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous;
The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high!”