I was reading an article in the World magazine this morning which was discussing Putin’s warming up to the Orthodox Church in Russia. Even the influential managing director of the World Congress of Families (WCF) spoke in support of Putin saying he wasn’t all that concerned by the attempts to annex Crimea and eastern Ukraine. His reasoning seems sound enough as he cites Putin’s recent sponsoring of bills to criminalize homosexuality as well as a big push back against abortion. Putin is even seen in many circles in Russia as the “protector of the traditional family”.
What is even more interesting is the fact that significant growth in the Orthodox Church in Russia has paralleled this raising of traditional biblical standards by the clearly secular leadership of the country. Putin has gone so far as to state in a recent keynote speech that the West has moved away from its Christian roots, carving out a “path to degradation”. Many Protestant Christians in Russia are not so quick to jump on the Putin train rather recognizing that Putin knew the country needed a BIG IDEA in order to be unified in much the same way Prince Vladimir did in 988 when he orchestrated a semblance of unity through forced mass baptisms.
But there is a point here that the church could perhaps learn from. The world is sick and tired of milquetoast religion that changes its standards every time there is a shift in the moral compass in society. As much as there is a lot of talk against rigidness or old fashion ways, there is a respect that accompanies a people, any people, who actually stand by their convictions and hold firm against the fickleness of moral or political movements in the world. If you need examples, just look at the tremendously disproportionate influence the LGBT or atheist crowds have had on our society. Although they represent fractional or single digit numbers percentage wise, they have been able to overturn laws and traditions held for centuries and even millenniums. Why, because they are passionate, consistent, unmovable and evangelical in their beliefs.
Of course any attempt to legislate morality will be met with failure and I am not a big proponent of the church trying to press moral values outside the church, but what could be the fallout if the church endeavored to regain lost ground on some moral frontlines within the church? Sure a few would be offended if we actually confronted gossip, immodesty or easy “no fault” divorce. But I believe that in the long run it will hold the attention of those truly serious about belonging to a group of people who don’t just talk a good talk but seek out and walk that narrow way in honor of the sacrifice of Christ.
There might be some who will say that I tend to focus too much on the justice side of the mercy/justice coin (Ps. 85:10) and I would have to agree, but only because there seems to be an imbalance in the church’s message out there. Seriously, there are no lack of the feel good, “I’m ok your ok” Joel Osteen type preachers out there who seem to avoid at all cost any semblance of accountability, confrontation or correction.
I believe in the strongest terms possible that a Gospel which combines a message with both the teeth and roar of Aslan coupled with the grace and love of Abba Father will be the one that endures to the end – and I get the feeling the end may be fast approaching. This makes it all the more important to know which side you are on because it really is an issue of taking sides and making a stand. Perhaps never before is the scripture more poignant than today in Joshua 24:15 – ….. Choose today whom you will serve ….. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.