In honor of a great servant of God, Lance Lambert (who completed his race this week), I recall his take on prophecy & prophets. I remember it like it was yesterday, although probably 1978 at the Finish School in Jerusalem, – “prophecy & prophets (with those distinguished rolled r’s) are not that big of a deal, a jackass did it once and a lot of them have done it since”.
A new survey came out this week that puts those identifying themselves as agnostic or atheist at a greater percentage than Catholics for the first time in US history. The same survey indicated Protestants at below 50% for the first time in the US at just over 46%. Those identifying as atheist or agnostic have almost doubled over the same 7 years.
All of this downturn in the percentage of Christians in America has occurred in spite of the fact the church is increasing its efforts to soft sell the Gospel and the doctrine of sin combined with an increasing acceptance (or ignoring) of practices that deviate from scripture. This is occurring within the very walls of the church and includes divorce, fornication, co-habitation, immodest dress, gossip and homosexuality.
If you have ever watch MMA or boxing, once an opponent starts to show signs of weakness there is an almost immediate flurry of kicks and punches to try and take advantage of the “weak” one. And of course once someone starts to show signs of weakness, the crowd turns and starts cheering for the “stronger” one because no one likes a looser. I suggest this is exactly what is occurring in the church. In the battle of the heavenlies, the church is not the weak one, but we act like it inviting the world to pounce.
In spite of what may seem trending today, the world does not actually appreciate milquetoast assimilation. All you have to do is to watch the enormous gains radical Islam has made in the past couple of decades since they have been able to export their hard line Sharia influence. Both “weak” and “strong” find the unwavering conviction of Islam as admirable and desirous to be a part of even, if misguided and ruthless. And for the doubters out there, the same Pew survey that had Christianity down almost 8% over the past 7 years also had the percentage of those identifying with Islam more than double in the same time period. Additionally, conservative evangelical churches saw almost no decline in identification while almost all the down turn came in mainstream protestant and Catholic churches – in other words, those churches making the biggest moves away from holding “harder” lines of scripture.
Do I suggest the church will surge in attendance if we return to our roots of holiness and a conservative doctrine of sin? No, not so much! I believe, as scripture indicates will happen, the time is perhaps fast approaching when “they will hand you over to those who will torture and kill you. All nations will hate you because you are committed to me. Then many will lose faith. They will betray and hate each other. Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. And because there will be more and more lawlessness, most people’s love will grow cold. But the person who endures to the end will be saved – Matt. 24:9-13.
Jesus’ own prophetic words give a foretelling picture not too dissimilar to what we see today. Just take modesty as one very “in your face” example. Scripture does not speak in detail about modesty very much. But we can glean some idea of God’s idea of modesty when He prescribes the dress for those who minister before the Lord. In addition to floor length multi layered robes, they were to wear what would best be describe as pajama bottoms underneath the robes to prevent the chance of any overexposure when they are climbing the stairs to the altar. These are God’s standards, not ones I came up with. But you can see almost anything in church today to include on the platform in those “ministering before the Lord”. What was once considered sexy is embraced today as the new “cute” to include shorter, lower and tighter form fitting outfits worn by both men and women. Thus the reference of the emperor’s new clothes as the latest pop culture styles are all too quickly embraced among Christians while ignoring what may well be immodest in God’s eyes.
“Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! Luke 17:1
So was Bath Sheba to blame for bathing naked on the rooftop or David for being out there scanning the rooftops instead of on the battle front with his men. Both!!! Women cannot blame men for looking as higher, tighter and “cuter” is designed to get them to do just that and men cannot use that for an excuse and we have Job as our example who because he had “made a covenant (before God) with his eyes made the choice not to gaze (at length) at women”.
Most of the points I make here can be found in part in other blogs I have penned. I tend to be pretty stubborn in my views and how I express them, perhaps much like that stubborn mule of Balham. But like a dog whistle, I get the feeling only a few hear it as valid preferring rather to be on the “right side of history”. I am enough of a student of biblical history to keep putting my blog out there even if to many it only sounds like the braying of a donkey.