Thursday, July 2, 2015
Thoughtful About . . . Where We Stand
It's nearly Independence Day here and America--a time to celebrate all we've fought to achieve. Freedom. Independence. The American Dream.
And it's been a week, hasn't it? A week of big decisions for our country with far-reaching implications. A week where all the Supreme Court justices wrote an opinion about their verdict on same-sex marriage--quite a rarity, that--and all affirmed a very important principle: that this decision could not interfere with freedom of speech and religion on the part of churches with a moral objection to said decision.
That was the silver lining. But it's a silver lining that will mean nothing if we don't exercise it. Far too often people trample the rights granted to us by the law, and we have to fight back...or we lose them.
But it applies to far more than whether we think same-sex marriage wrong. It applies to absolutely everything we believe, and everything we're willing--or not--to take a stand for. It should make us ask a very important question: if the terror and persecution Isis is bludgeoning the other side of the world with makes its way here, what do we do? If our government continues to press its heel into the spine of religion, what do we do? If leaders continue to tell us we have to change our core beliefs, what do we do?
All too often, I think we ask, "What can we do?"
So we sit. And we flip away from the news channel when it reports yet another mass-beheading in Africa or the Middle East--after all, we're so far away...what can we do?
We just shake our head when we learn of another Bible study shut down or Christian organization wrongly pursued by the IRS. After all, it's just one too-noisy group...what can we really do?
We tell ourselves that if it comes down to it, we'll take a stand. We'll fight for what's right. We won't let terror rule our lives or dictate to us. But...what can we do?
In pre-WWII Germany, there were plenty of people who saw where the tide was turning. They saw the dangers coming their way. There was one man, a pastor, who wanted to make sure his people, his country, didn't give in to this evil he felt surging--this evil that would annihilate the Jews if it could, and who was turning on Christianity too. He formed a group of fellow believers. People who claimed they would go to prison--or a concentration camp, as the case may be--rather than go silently along with the atrocities. He formed a group 10,000 strong, all pledging to stand firm.
Do you know how many followed through? Spoke up, spoke out? Went to prison for their beliefs? Three. Three. This pastor and two others.
It brings the story of Lot to mind, doesn't it? And Abraham pleading, "Oh, Lord, if there be but ten righteous men, will you spare them?"
But they just sat there. Because they were afraid.
I know that analogies involving Hitler are over-done, but I'm not really looking right now at that one evil man. I'm looking at a nation that let him have power, that went silently along with him. I'm not concerned with him--I'm concerned with them. And I'm concerned with us. Because we all say we're committed to standing against atrocities--but when it comes down to it, are we?
The numbers of martyred Christians and Jews in the last two years is absolutely staggering--yet we sit silently by, here on the other side of the world. We pray for them--which I would never belittle...but only when we think about it
The world is a scary place right now. It really is. And when a situation gets this explosive, two things can happen: either the bad guys continue to wage their war of terror and everyone else just lets them, for fear of getting killed...or people stand up, good fighting evil, and revival sweeps the globe.
We have missionary friends poised to move to Bulgaria. Their goal, on past missions trips there, was to bring faith to a people too long stripped of it by communism. When they first went to Bulgaria, they were among the first to do so after communism fell, and they found a people desperately thirsty for the Word of God. Now these same people are in an amazing position--they are poised on the very edge of east and west, with refugees fleeing Isis encamped about them. They are in position to minister themselves.
These friends recently went to a conference of like-minded ministries, and they spoke to countless people all saying the same thing: for decades we ministered to Eastern Europe, and now Eastern Europe is in a position to minister to the Middle East.
Revival is waiting. But if it sweeps across the globe, will it come here too? Or will we shut it out, flip the channel, because we don't want to hear about the horrors it has to fight against? Will we sit by while our freedoms to gather, to worship, to speak out are slowly whittled away?
We need to stop asking "What can we do?" and just stand. Vocally, firmly, without fear. Don't just give money or say a prayer once every week or two. Commit this daily to prayer. Earnestly seek God on what you can do. And then, hardest of all--be willing to do it.