Genesis 11:6 – The LORD said, “They are one people with one language. This is only the beginning of what they will do! Now nothing they plan to do will be too difficult for them.
God saw all the amazing things the “globalized” people of the earth were accomplishing and He saw it as a negative. Why would great advancements, huge building programs and international cooperation be seen as a negative? Because God knew that along with “nothing they plan to do will be too difficult” would also come an arrogant practice of anything goes.
So it has taken several thousands of years for the world to be “globalized” again to the point where language differences are of little consequence when all you have to do is hit “translate page” on Google or upload a comparable app on your smart phone for instant, real time translation. Just yesterday I saw and advertisement for an ear insert that instantly translates a language. There is again no language barrier in the world. As a result, truly amazing things are taking place in the advancement of the world in technology, medicine, farming, science, construction, manufacturing as well as equally negative, anything goes, factors of relativism, pride and debauchery.
An amazing amount of these “advancements” have taken place in my lifetime. I was visiting with my father a few months back and we were discussing the decline of the church’s influence in America in particular. He made the point that WWII was a significant factor in the beginning of the globalization of the world. Prior to WWII, the vast majority of people were born, grew up and died all within a few miles while all the time going to the same church, generally knowing the same people as well as being subject to the same peer influence and pressure for most social and character life issues. The effect of WWII on that localized influence was monumental. With the advancement and reduced cost of both local and international travel, it was no longer assumed that you would live and die in your “home town”. Troops from across the globe, in addition to fighting a war, were exposed to vastly different and exciting new states, countries and cultures. Combine this shrinking of the world via travel with the ease of international communication and collaboration and what was once the local village ultimately became the World Wide Web breaking down all remaining barriers.
Don’t get me wrong, I see it as a good thing when somebody in South Africa comes up with a piece of some medical puzzle and he is able to instantly collaborate with someone or even several someones in other countries to affect a breakthrough in medicine. That is not the problem God saw with common tongue and communication. It’s when some guy with a foot fetish, (or substitute some other fringe activity) who because of social media and the ability to search the whole world in an instant for others with the same interest, no longer feels alone and the need to hide or curtail his vice. He now feels validated and accepted practicing what would have otherwise been viewed as weird and perhaps even deviant to his local community. Don’t believe me. Oh you doubters, there are now foot worship fetish parties all over the world.
When it comes to appreciating nice looking feet, perhaps there is little concern for the decline of worldwide morality. There are, however, other incredibly destructive things which have come “out of the closet” in my lifetime. And I’m not just talking about homosexuality. In the big scheme of things, homosexuality may be one of the lesser evils which have found validation in today’s society as a result of the shrinking world. By far the most destructive things to emerge “triumphant” in modern society are areas in which the church has capitulated to “right side of history” and culturally correct or expedient practices. The reason falling standards in the church bears so much consideration is because, lest we forget, “judgment begins in the house of God” 1Peter 4:17.
I am going to be as blunt and honest as I can here because the future ability of the church to regain its effectiveness, influence and reputation in the world is at stake. Just a short biblical lesson shouldn’t be too tedious for those who already know and it will be helpful for those who don’t (of which there are apparently multitudes). From the very beginning of the establishment of the Jewish nation, leadership was admonished to not collect a big salary (multiply gold for themselves), to follow God’s eternal laws and to serve the people. Most of them unfortunately failed to do this causing countless reoccurring problems. Jesus however, as our most perfect shepherd/leader, did in fact model these eternal values by living a life of servant hood and sacrifice paired with an extremely modest lifestyle. How is it then that today there are so many “pastors” who insult God’s commands and the very essence of who Jesus is by embracing living standards more closely resembling the “lifestyles of the rich and famous”? It’s because they can go on line and find other pastors “succeeding” who have equally inflated opinions of themselves who live in million dollar homes and who collect 6 or 7 figure salaries.
It is primarily a modern day phenomenon in which a person can feel “called” into the ministry and service of Christ and have the prospect or expectation of being greatly enriched by doing so. And if we are going to be completely honest, even the un-churched are often all too aware of the commands in scripture for a modest lifestyle among Christians and these affluent and greedy mega-church practices, which more closely resemble those in the corporate world, have them dismissing and tuning out entirely because of the blatant hypocrisy.
I’m going to sound a bit liberal here for a moment (please forgive me) but how do so many churches justify cushy couches, fancy coffee bars and worship leader spot lights combined with a multitude of projector screens, mood lighting and the latest internet technology while we still have the destitute, lost and desperate right outside our church doors. I suggest it is our priorities which need remodeling – not our “out dated” facilities. And here is the kicker, those “bigger, better, more” accoutrements are the very reason we are not drawing in or retaining our young people as they see these things as a shallow mimic of their entertainment world. They are longing and searching for something very different than their most recent secular concert experience when it comes to engaging and worshiping a holy God – or was it for naught that God said “My ways are not your ways”? And in Romans 12 when God exhorts us “Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead change the way you think.” What follows is a list of activities of servant hood, giving, teaching, showing mercy etc. Conspicuously lacking is any mention of fancy buildings or big salaries. This is not to say that functionally appropriate facilities are not necessary, but they cannot take precedence over the work of the ministry.
There are many more factors which have led to the church growing in its irrelevance. In order to maintain those high salaries, fancy coffee bar lobbies and environmental sanctuaries, which by the way are resulting in ever increasing budgets, many churches have rolled over on many eternal biblical standards. They simply can’t risk losing those tithe dollars so in order not to offend the offenders, long standing Biblical laws are massaged and equivocated on to include a hate for divorce that mirrors God’s (Malachi 2:16), an intolerance for adultery, teen sex, gossip, greed, homosexuality and more. Pro-active mentoring and accountability for Godly character has become a fading and lost art. I offer one glaring example from Malachi 2:13 & 14 where God plainly informs His people that the reason He no longer pays attention to their prayers and sacrifices is because of the high divorce rate. Could it be stated any more plainly? And here we are today with divorce rates in the church approaching the same level as in secular society.
I hope you are able to track with me on this as to the negatives of the church being “plugged in” to the progressive globalized world. To possibly help illustrate this I will offer an example. Most of us Christians, as well as non-Christians, view the Amish and similar communities as old fashion, behind the times and maybe even a bit weird. But let’s give the benefit of the doubt for a minute and consider this quote from an article on the Amish Studies website.
“Why would God frown on a telephone? What sense does it make to keep a tractor at the barn but not take it to the field? Is it not inconsistent, if not outright hypocritical, to hire non-Amish drivers but refuse to own cars? And what could be the difference between 12-volt electricity from batteries and 110-volt current from public utility lines? These distinctions may look silly to outsiders, but within the context of Amish history they are important cultural adaptations that have helped to slow the pace of social change and keep worldliness at bay”.
Obviously the rejection of many types of technology hasn’t been a catch-all for the Amish, but in their close knit and tight communities the influence or validation of Biblically fringe practices have had little opportunity to foment and grow. Not too unlike it might have been 100 years ago in a smaller community where if some guy in your church is abusing his wife and the other men in the church find out, they would have taken that guy out and given him a good talking to or more depending on the level of abuse. Or if the guy with some other fetish or deviant inclination was unable to find others like himself in their town he might truly have understood that this was a lifestyle or way of thinking which he shouldn’t entertain. But today, it almost doesn’t matter what fringe or deviant interest you might have, you are sure to find a few hundred if not several thousands of people “just like you” amongst the billions of people in the world for the simple reason you were able to search it on Google or some other social media and even go the their annual conference.
And on a more broad note, how is it that so many young people today feel the freedom to be dismissive and rude to their parents, teachers and other community “elders”? Because they see it modeled every day on the latest TV sitcom, late night comedy “news” or selfie video on social media. And if all those other young people are doing it then it must be ok and all those grey headed people are just stupid and out of touch by trying to hold onto those outdated practices of honor, character, respect, morality and hard work. Even among many Christian youth it hardly even enters into their minds that the first commandment with a promise was to honor those “older” people in your life (parents). They have been brainwashed into believing they know better after finding validation for their attitudes with the latest trending YouTube video and they do not even hesitate to inform you of their new found enlightenment and your “old and busted” views.
How unfortunate that the globalization and shrinking of our world through the ease of communication, and the internet in particular, has spawned 2 very different results. One being the almost limitless capacity of our world to accomplish things formerly thought impossible as well as the ability for anti-God practices to gain an increasing foothold in the church because “everybody is doing it” and I can prove it because I read it somewhere on the internet today.
As much as it pains me (and the Lord) to say this, I don’t see things changing for the better in the church in general. So many have fallen hook line and sinker for the Joel Osteen, Rob Bell and Carl Lentz types who embrace feel good wealth fantasies, no worries about eternal punishment and an unwillingness to call blatant sexual sin – sin. I am feeling more and more that Jesus was not speaking metaphorically when He said that the path to eternal life is narrow and few will find it. I am challenged everyday to watch my attitudes, anger, impatience, un-forgiveness as well as my devotion to the principals of scripture and how it compares to the life of Jesus and the fruits of the Spirit. I have a long way to go, but I cannot turn aside from that narrow path to run across the median to that wide and inviting road shouting to the rest of humanity, and so many who call themselves Christians, “wait for me, I’ll catch up”. This is not about being on the right side of history. This is about being hidden in Christ and Him alone. And the promise is that if we do so we will be despised on this earth.
PS As I was writing this over the past few weeks, I felt strongly that it was a prophetic word for the church. I was praying the past few days for the Lord to confirm this word in my heart before I sent it out and this morning a good friend posted an excerpt from a short letter written by Derek Prince probably 25 years ago. That letter parallels this blog in several ways and I felt it was a confirming encouragement to go forward. Thanks Richard! Link below
I have never asked this, but if this blog speaks to your spirit, pray about sharing it.