There have been many words put to print lately about various trends of immorality in the world around us. In particular, our state has recently been involved in the ongoing debate surrounding homosexual marriage and there is a movie recently released that further glorifies other forms of sexual deviancy. What is the Christian to make of all of this? Shall we take up some political campaign or protest to show our dismay? Perhaps we should go along making no comment at all because all of this “really has nothing to do with us.” It is easy to get swept into one extreme reaction or another when such extreme positions are at play but let us not look to the world for our guide but to God’s word.
In the first place, we do want to recognize that the world is always going to be at odds with the will of God. Men of all points in history have believed in their own capacity to “make the world a better place.” If we are not careful, we can get swept up in the notion that the right leader, the right law, or the right political system can save mankind. When God speaks of the world, He never speaks with the view that it will be saved but always to the view that the majority have always and will always turn away from Him (Matt. 7:13). That is not pessimism, that is reality of the history of God’s word and faith in what He says of the future. So, to some degree we must not allow ourselves too much shock and dismay when the world acts like…the world.
In addition to the recognition that the world is lost and dying, we also need to recognize the limitations of our place in this world. God has not called Christians to become political world leaders but to become quiet and consistent influences wherever they are. We influence by living lives that glorify God not ones that glorify a political party (Matt. 5:16). Our authority over those who defy God’s will is limited to those who are of our number and even that is only a matter of limiting our own contact with those persons (1 Cor. 5:9-12). So, while we may want to take some forceful action, that is simply not what God has called for. In fact, in a world that was at least as immoral as our own time, Paul called for Christians to pray for leaders to the end that we may live a “tranquil and quiet life” (1 Tim. 2:2).
Yet, while we should recognize the world for what it is and our limited capacity to bring about change, we don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking that such digressions in morality as we have seen in the last several decades are of no consequence to the Christian. In the first place, it is and should be a sorrowful thing to see immorality exalted. Some might say, “I am not surprised to see this.” Do you suppose the Lord was shocked to see the world digress into the state in which we find it in Genesis 6? The omniscient God is not shocked, but He is filled with sorrow (Gen. 6:6). We don’t need to become so calloused to sin that it fails to cause in us the reaction that it causes in God who has seen all the sin that has ever been committed and yet grieves. Many will mock us for our sorrow and even view our sorrow as another form of judgment. And yet like “righteous Lot” we are increasingly living in a world surrounded by sin and therefore our souls will be “tormented day after day by their lawless deeds” (2 Pet. 2:8). But take heart, God has promised that those who mourn are blessed, “for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
The other thing that we must do in the face of such tremendous opposition is keep the faith. When we look at the numbers we can begin to question the rightness of our beliefs or the effectiveness of our efforts to influence. But consider the influence of men of God in other ages of debauchery. Noah is said to have been a “preacher of righteousness” and would have been so for at least 100 years. Yet the result of his preaching was the preservation of only eight souls (2 Pet. 2:5). Isaiah is told to prophesy to the people not so that they would listen and change their hearts, but to, “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed” (Isa. 6:10). Can you imagine being told that no one would listen but that you must go and preach anyway. The response to truth may not be what we would wish it to be in a world so full of sin. But if Isaiah could continue to proclaim the truth in the face of such opposition as that, then surely we can continue to proclaim it in face of what we see today.
It is a sinful world we live in. Let it break your heart, but let God also lift it back up. Don’t get carried away with the tactics of the world in trying to fight the world. But take up the armor of God and keep fighting on God’s terms (Eph. 6:12-18). And if you will do that, you will not win the world, but you and all those blessed few who will do likewise will most assuredly win the crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8).
By Stephen Russell