Recently Jim Denison’s blog included a list of eleven things Christians could do if they wanted to avoid changing the culture. The daily news makes it quite clear that the culture does not want to be changed by Christians, but this is the first time I have seen anyone, Christian or otherwise, lay out a real plan to put a stop to Christian influence in the public forum. It is a good plan. It sounds quite realistic. Here is the list provided on the blog:
- Stop trusting God
- Refuse to try new approaches
- Withdraw from the non-Christian world
- Trust in yourself more than in God
- Ignore personal character
- Don’t take time to pray and reflect
- Put your faith in people rather than the Lord
- Trust the church rather than the Spirit
- Lose your focus on the gospel
- Be afraid of change
- Lose your passion for Jesus
All of the items on the list make complete sense if your purpose is to avoid making waves. The first one is the one that really sets the tone: Stop trusting God.
If churches and Christian social service agencies actually trusted God, they would not be applying for federal grants to operate. If Christian colleges actually trusted God, they would not accept federal student aid for their students. If Christians nation-wide actually trusted God, they would not vote for and advocate for government programs at all levels of government to do the work Christians are supposed to do in this world. To say that is not to wish that poor people had no place to go for help; it simply means that Christians have always known that Christ calls them to serve others. However, when Christians advocate for the government to take on that role, they are really saying they would rather give the government high taxes than give God generous offerings. Why is that so?
If individual Christians and the organizations of Christians really trusted God, they would be praying and serving and giving to the work of Christ, and the poor would receive the care they need. Every time Christians put their complete trust in God, God provides. The World Mission Prayer League is a fine example. This Christian organization does not apply for funds from any government body. It puts its trust completely in God, and God provides. Their accomplishments around the world demonstrate what can happen when people completely trust God.
If you take the time to think and pray about this whole list, it will be personally transforming. Do you really want to see an end to Christian influence in the world? Or do you yearn for Christians and all other people to be free to live according to their faith? What do you see in yourself that is contributing to the demise of religious liberty and the God-given right to worship and serve him in all places at all times? Do you trust God completely? Do you actually trust God to act or do you think it is all up to you? Do you ever really take time to pray about the problems you see every day? Do you believe that God cannot bring his kingdom to pass if your chosen candidate loses the election? Do you actually have a passion for Jesus?
It is a good list for self-examination the next time you step out of the daily chaos and take time for prayer. Ask God if he has something for you to do in his work of bringing the kingdom near to people. Ask yourself if you trust God to empower you to do this work, or do you actually believe you must do it all by yourself.
If someone asks you, of course you won’t answer that you don’t want God’s kingdom to come near. Yet deep down you must ask yourself if you really trust God to accomplish that work.
When the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, as recorded in Mark 4:35-41, the disciples, riding in the boat with God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, were not able to trust that God could take care of God, let alone them. They cried out, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?” They looked at the situation and instead of trusting God, they were afraid. We all live in that same place – at the intersection of fear and trust. Satan tries to drag us over into fear and we scream out angrily at God for failing us. Jesus doesn’t let go of us; we let go of Jesus.
Jesus calls us away from fear to trust. He asks us to live in the midst of the chaos and tumult of the massive ocean storm without losing our trust that he will be with us through it all. Like the World Mission Prayer League, we must be willing to step forward, storm or no storm, and trust that Christ will not abandon us. We must trust that he will not fail to accomplish his purposes. We must trust that he will not let go of us.
There are many challenges to our faith in our culture. There are a variety of responses we can make. None is more important than that first item on the list. We will never be able to influence our culture to become more Christ-like unless first and foremost and above all other loves and loyalties we trust God alone.