This is a very different, unfamiliar time for Christians who are old enough to remember a previous era in America, and many of us are struggling to adjust, not only how we live, but also how we think. In this post, I would like to explore what I believe is occurring, and then share a subtle distinction that has been very helpful to me in understanding, facing and then beginning to make the necessary adjustments.
Many call this a “post-Christian” era today, because interest in traditional Christianity in America is not only in decline among our leaders, but now believing what the Bible teaches is even vilified as racist, homophobic and indicative of “white privilege.” According to all statistics, Christianity, as represented by church attendance, is on the decline, from 73% the year I was born in 1938, to 50% today, with half that decline occurring since the turn of the century—the last 20 years.
Most of our nation’s founders grew up with a strongly Puritan Christian background in colonial America, and most were professing Christians themselves. But they established a nation at the Constitutional Convention in 1786 whose constitution prohibits the Federal Government from officially requiring any particular faith of its office-holders—resulting in a de jure (legal), pluralistic government (Article 6, Section 3). Religion or lack thereof is irrelevant for its magistrates.
However, the fact remained that these were the leaders of a new, de facto (actual) Christian nation, as the vast majority of colonial Americans were professing Christian, and they left in their wake a distinctly Christian culture. 200 years later, in mid-twentieth century America, the same majority of the populace still lived by Christian standards, unconsciously following biblical law in their everyday lives, including in the civil law that preserved order in society. The majority had no idea, though America remained a de jure pluralistic nation, that biblical law was the source of most of the civil laws by which they lived their daily lives. This distinction between de facto and de jure is crucial in understanding our nation’s approach to the situation today.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the second universal paradigm shift in American culture occurred (the abolition of slavery in the 1860s was the first). It was a radically counter-cultural movement, brought on by a confluence of factors, such as the assassination of President Kennedy, continuing oppressive racial segregation, Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, the VietNam war, and the coming of age of the Baby Boomers.
These post war babies, now young adults, were the first generation where the majority of Americans enjoyed the financial fruits of the booming postwar economy. They had the family resources to have time for political activism without having to work from dawn to dusk just to eat to stay alive. They were also popularly called, “the Hippie Generation;” their hallmark was complete sexual liberation. Two of their famous slogans were, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” and “Question authority.”
The Hippies, along with a declining, weakening, retreatist church, opened the door to today’s libertine sexual mores, the broken family that always results, and the unconscious openness to cultural Marxism, that characterizes the progressive movement today.
But, in spite of these dour circumstances, I am excited! God has us right where He wants us. We have no clue what He is about, or how He will go about accomplishing His purpose in all this mess, but we know He will. He is not a front-runner; He always comes from behind; His ways are always counter-intuitive.
I want to look at some biblical facts that will greatly brighten up your day in the midst of a culture that seems to be falling apart around us. This may be a new way to look at scriptural truth for you. As our Father gives you the faith to believe this truth, that will comprise “living by faith.”
Since His victory over sin and death at the cross and His subsequent ascension to Heaven, Jesus has been seated, for the last 2000 years, right there at His Father’s right hand (Ephesians 1:20-23), ruling over the earth. Psalm 110 is a short, prophetic Psalm that informs us of this fact, a fact referred to over 10 times in the New Testament (Matthew 26:64; 26:19; Acts 2:34-36; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 1:13; 8:1; 10:11, 12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 3:21, etc.).
How could it be clearer? Jesus Christ, the King of kings, is ruling from God’s right hand in Heaven, but, somehow, also right “in the midst of His enemies.” Where are “His enemies?” Here on the earth! “When the LORD extends your mighty scepter from Zion, rule in the midst of your enemies” (Psalm 110:2)! This rule is happening right now, not at some distant time in the future. But if Jesus is seated “at God’s right hand,” how can that be? This verse tells us—this rule is ”through His mighty scepter from Zion”—through the people of God, you and me, by His Holy Spirit, today and every day!
Seeing and believing this is a game-changer. Every contact with others, in every situation, is an opportunity for the King to love “His enemies;” to touch them with His healing presence through us. No chance meeting with anyone is irrelevant or unimportant. This is the church in action.
Planning, organizing and recruiting is not necessary—no evangelism classes, visitation campaigns or planned outreach meetings. No memorized gospel presentations or evangelism training classes. Just spontaneous living, going about everyday, in the midst of mundane, regular activities, knowing and believing that Jesus is ruling from God’s right hand right now through you and spreading His love, joy and peace by the Holy Spirit within you wherever you go.
When you see and believe this, you are dangerous! The gates of Hell cannot stop you; the Devil cannot defeat you; “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37). You are an unconscious kingdom extender, a little child with your hand in Daddy’s, trusting Him for everything.
You are a light in the darkness, not frustrated or discouraged because of the culture. You are recognizing that, yes, we are at war, but the weapons of our warfare do not consist of trying to attack the enemy by throwing verbal handgrenades and returning hatred with hatred. No, we are called to (1.) stand for the truth of God in the Bible, and never back down or compromise, and (2), proclaim that truth—that “King Jesus has died for you that you may have life, was raised from the dead with you and is currently ruling from God’s right hand, over Heaven and earth, through you! Come join Him. He knows you and loves you. His army is on the march!”