This is the second part of the mini-series I started a few months back that looks at the challenge of following Jesus in the current cultural climate. In the first part I argued that as the prevailing culture becomes increasingly hostile to the people and mission of Jesus we would do well to recognise the reality of our current context and to remember the words of Jesus in order to gain perspective and find comfort.
In this post I want to present a further consideration for what it means for us as God’s people to follow Jesus in the current cultural climate. In short, we need to…
Repent of our sins
I read this verse in the book of Proverbs recently and it really struck a chord:
Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.
Proverbs 14 v 34
On many levels it would seem that there is far more sin than righteousness on display in our nation at the moment, and that increasingly sin is celebrated whilst righteousness is ridiculed and rejected. So as a nation – far from being exalted we are reproached. However, it is UTTERLY crucial that we don’t look around at a society that neither loves nor fears God and to start blaming anyone and everyone who doesn’t see the world as we see it. Rather, our primary concern should be introspection and repentance.
One of the weird things about where Christianity stands in our culture right now is that it hasn’t always been like this. As I have stated previously we are now very much in the margins (where we belong) as are Christians in cultures the world over. But what makes our situation so (tragically) unique is that as recently as 60 years ago the Christian faith was front-and-centre in our land. Our laws, our values, our worldview and our aspirations were all deeply influenced by the gospel that had so dramatically shaped our society.
But here we are in 2015 and we have let go of the gospel.
Or we have twisted the gospel to suit a changing cultural narrative.
Or we have made the gospel a private affair and effectively put our lamp under a basket.
However, how we got here and whoever is responsible is really not the point anymore!
We are where we are – and the buck has to stop with the people of God.
Therefore, the buck stops with me!
Following Solomon’s dedication of the temple in 2 Chronicles 7 the Lord appeared to Solomon and spoke these words:
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7 v 13-14
God was clear that when the nation was in distress the onus was on His people to respond. However, their response was not to point criticising fingers at surrounding ‘sinners’ or to rage against the godlessness of a Christ-less culture. Rather, what was required of His people was that they humbly turn, pray, seek their God and repent of their sins!
Saints, the brutal reality that we need to face up to is that the sin which is wrecking our society is also festering in our own hearts. I am not immune to iniquity, immorality, corruption and compromise…and nor are you!
If there is a lesson that I am being forced to learn more and more as I continue to follow Jesus it’s that I need His grace as much today as I ever did. The vile, stinking husk of my old self lurks in the shadows and leaps onto my back to pull me down at every given opportunity. Seeking to stand, fight, pray and prevail is an exhausting, humiliating and relentless struggle.
But there is no other way!
If I want things to change then I must be the first to turn to the Lord for mercy.
Repentance will always precede revival.
And repentance starts with me!
Will you join me?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
– Hebrews 12 v 1-2