It is time for the Church to attend to its primary task

A a few years ago, a protest movement was started by a loose network of political agitators who wanted to undermine what they perceived to be the unjust capitalist system that has in fact been the main reason for our historic prosperity.

Someone decided to call the movement “Occupy”. The idea was that an unruly mob, by its sheer numbers, could potentially shut down Wall Street, certain industries and local government that the movement’s leaders disagreed with. The masses of protesters included communists, anarchists and a few young agitators seeking a cause.

While I disagree with the methods employed by the protesters, or with most of their goals, I shared some of their frustrations with corporate greed and unfair trade practices.

Currently, it seems that public protests over just about anything have escalated and escalated to breaking point. No one seems to be happy with anything. The turbulent political climate, inflation and increasing anarchy have exacerbated our national bad mood. These are indeed difficult times, socially and economically. Growing public dissatisfaction and anger are the results.

Unfortunately, as times get tougher, far too many people are becoming increasingly dependent on government assistance, even though our country is already drowning in red ink. Nevertheless, the American people, including Christians, continue to look to Uncle Sam for the prosperity and security they believe they are forever entitled to. And why wouldn’t they? A few generations have grown up with this being the norm.

Freedom requires responsibility. Dependence on government erodes freedom. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “A government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take everything you have away from you.”

The main problem with turning to our political leaders for help is that they are out of money and out of ideas. Taxes on the “rich” and new regulations on trade are, at best, counterproductive to prosperity.

The more the government becomes involved in the private affairs of its citizens, the more unproductive those citizens become. Something will soon have to give or there will be an epic systematic failure of every major American institution.

Some Christians see the disastrous set of circumstances that are destroying our economy as the first pangs of a coming apocalypse. Maybe they are right. Some see the need to “ride around the wagons”, arm themselves, and stockpile supplies in order to be ready when the “bad guys” show up, whoever they are. Maybe they are right too.

Yet others think that because this or that Bible prophecy (usually taken out of context) seems to match our present situation, we are in the Last Days. I guess that’s a real possibility too.

In any case, Jesus warned us not to panic, but to look to our hope, and not to the troubles of the world that he promised us to overcome. Christians can talk all they want about end-time situations and how to prepare for personal survival when things start to go downhill. As wise as that sounds, it might just be the wrong approach.

Before anyone reacts strongly to my statement, consider for a moment that this could be a golden opportunity for the Church to make the difference for which it was created. Could this be the beginning of a new era, where believers would rally to their King and begin to manifest, in deeds as well as in words, the Kingdom of God?

Unfortunately, Christians seem apt to miss opportunities. I think this is because even we have been infected by a flawed worldview that rejects the absolute authority of God’s Word and replaces it with relativism, the philosophy that espouses the belief that every theory or idea has the same validity as the others.

This may sound appealing to independent Christian thinkers who embrace universalism. After all, Jesus loves us no matter how badly we behave. He wouldn’t send anyone to hell. Obedience to biblical principles is therefore rejected as fundamentalist legalism, these thinkers say

Without a true moral compass, even Christians can get lost. The tragic fact is that the world has done a much better job of “evangelizing” the Church than the Church has done the world. Everyone seems to do what is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6), regardless of what they say they believe.

Truth is buried in a dung heap of excuses for our flagrant disobedience and neglect when it comes to the commandments of Christ. Do we really love it enough to change our lives to reflect it? This is not a rhetorical question.

Being a Bible-believing Christian is extremely difficult in today’s cultural climate. We are despised and ridiculed by our enemies. Yet the Word confines us to living by principles that restrain our natural inclination to retaliate violently against those who rebuke us and mock our “backward” dependence on a God whom the world says exists only in our imaginations. .

We are bound to be silent when accused of being the cause of hatred, bigotry and almost every social ill that visits the world.

Nevertheless, God asks us to love our enemy…to feed and comfort him. It’s difficult for an old sailor like me. It would be easy to throw in the spiritual towel and fight fire with fire. However, I know too well that the anger of men is counter-productive to the grace of God. Jesus has called us to a higher way. Faced with the current turmoil, he orders us to “occupy” until his return.

In Luke chapter nineteen, Jesus tells the parable of the servants sent before a king to invest wisely. He instructed them to make it work. Two did and were rewarded. One didn’t and was punished. In verse thirteen the servants were told to “occupy.” The word in Greek basically means attending to the task at hand. In this parable which was to prepare the way for the coming of the King.

This is exactly what the Church must do today. We should apply all of our God-given resources to reconciling the world to God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). To that end, it is absolutely vital that we come together and think about what kind of people we need to be.

In the words of the apostle Peter, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wondrous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you did not receive mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as strangers and strangers in the world, to refrain from sinful desires that make war on your soul. Live such a good life among the pagans that although they accuse you of doing evil, they can see your good deeds and glorify God the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:9-12).

Let us continue in faith and take care of the preparation for the return of the King.

God bless you.

[LeRoy Curtis is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Asbury Theological Seminary. He served four years as a U.S. Naval Officer after which he became a pastor, Bible professor, educator, author, and missionary living in E. Africa for eight years where he and his wife developed a curriculum of biblical studies for untrained pastors in rural Kenya. His passion for training young church leaders takes him to various parts of the U.S., Latin America, and Africa. He and Judy are currently residing in Carrollton, Georgia.]

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