By Jaime Nava –
The United States feels like it’s in a tail spin, at least to me. More than likely, I think the next president will be a goon. Subjective morality has become the local truth which is no truth at all without absolute truth. Socialism is the glimmer in the eye of so many millennials now. We’re setting ourselves up for the same wall that Germany and Russia ran into. First, we’ll try to be great one last time only to get kicked in the nuts as a nation. Next, we’ll sulk and blame the old ways for all the troubles. Following that will be a leader who promises to send us to greatness. He’ll do this with total control because the people want him to have it. With each and every step, the church will be relegated to a room, then a corner, then finally kicked out. We’ll lose exempt status. We’ll lose freedom to speak. We’ll lose our pastors to prisons. It’s not alarmist; it’s history repeating.
Since it’s the internet, I have to disclaim that I don’t think we should sit back and let things happen to the Church, mmkay? I am not saying that we stop preaching. I am not saying we should not vote. I’m not saying anything like that. I am looking into the past and watching it make another loop. I’m also not fatalistic. It’s possible that none of what I think will happen will happen. I think it will, though.
Our era of peace in the Church in the US is approaching an end point, and I’m okay with that. Although I do prefer times of peace, it’s not always beneficial for the Church. Consider how Constantinianism (bringing together of Church and State) has also led to deep corruption in the Church’s past. In Luther’s day, monasteries and convents were sold out from others to the highest bidder in Rome. Clergy had their own brothels set aside just for them. How special! The central tenet of Christianity, Christ, went to the wayside while what we do to inherit eternal life took the fore. Are we so naive to think that the United States has been a paragon of Christian living? In what century has the United States of America ever seen a golden age? Was it the one where men would spend their money drinking and gambling away their income? Was it the hyper response to remove alcohol from society altogether? Was it during the roaring 20s? I might say that the Greatest Generation who saw such horrors and atrocities had to at least appreciate what freedom is. Let’s be honest, people may have gone to church more on Sundays, but do you think that those people were any less sinners than today? If you think so, I’ve got a bridge for sale.
In times of greatest sorrow and persecution, the Church thrives. The scales of material desire, hedonism with Christian clothing, and greed are peeled from our eyes with force. We are left to stare into the face of a bloodied Savior. We are asked the question, “Is this really what you say you are?” It’s in the hard times that we see what God is made of. It’s in our weakness that He is strong. It’s in groaning that words cannot articulate that the Holy Spirit intercedes. As many have said on social media, Jesus is King, and no earthly ruler will save the day. It’s because Jesus died that we have Easter. It’s because the early Church got it so wrong that we have so many of Paul’s letters. It’s also because they suffered that we have them too. It’s because John was on Patmos and the Church was being killed for believing in the Lord that we have Revelation. It’s in our times of real persecution and suffering that Christ shines.
I hate the idea of suffering. What I hate even more is that my children and grandchildren will suffer on a grander scale. I don’t want it for anybody because suffering sucks. This is what Paul said, ”Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) As a culture, maybe even as a Church in the US, we have lost a lot of hope and character. We can trust that in the time of suffering, Christ will develop the endurance we need for those things to blossom. So I expect suffering to happen sometime in the near future, and I’m okay with that, not because I want it, but because I believe in what it produces in Christ. Besides, God will never give us more than He can handle.