A mere generation ago, seventy-six years to be exact, the world faced a series of crises of biblical proportions. It was what came to be known as World War II, a dangerously dark time in human history. Were it not for the courage of millions of men and women, and the prevailing sense of responsibility embraced by so many, we’d all be speaking German, Italian or Japanese. Far more than the issue of mere language, fascism, “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism,” nearly won the day. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Today, we’re facing a series of crises equally as epic – but in a very real way, things are very, very different. Complacency reigns. Courage and responsibility have gone the way of the Dodo Bird. One of my good friends recently shared For Want of a Nail with me, and I’d like to share it with you:
“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, For the want of a shoe the horse was lost, For the want of a horse the rider was lost, For the want of a rider the battle was lost, For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”
Exactly. It amazes me how so many of us Christians are more enamored with what I refer to as “the Evangelical escape clause,” the “Rapture,” than the God we say we’re waiting for. In fact, we’ve become so heavenly minded, we’re of little earthly good. Yes, I believe in the rapture – but at the end of the day, it’s irrelevant to me when it comes to how I live for Christ. I think it should be the same for you, too. In fact, if we don’t all begin to stop using the “Rapture” as our escape clause, we’ll never reverse the trend of complacency that has become the new characteristic of the Evangelical community.
Rapture or not, we Christians believe Jesus Christ is returning. The problem is that we all seem to be sitting on the side-lines at this epic time in history, when it’s being written, waiting for Him to do what He says is our part in the battle. Since when did complacency become the Christian battle cry? Complacency and battle are enemies. They have nothing to do with each other. Truth is, we Christians have lost our pulse on the battle between good and evil. We want Jesus to fight all our battles, to such an extent, that all we care about is the comfort of our lives.
There was a time when courage and faith marched together. There was a time when to be a Christian meant you were the agent of change in a distasteful, dark world. Complacency? Well, that would have been akin to being lukewarm. But lukewarm is the face of the typical American Christian. Lukewarm has so much become the norm for us that we think material blessings, not persecution, are the measure of mature, God-honoring faith.
We love to preach and hear the stories of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, David and Goliath, Gideon and his 300 men and the boldness of Peter and John when they were opposed by the Sanhedrin (Acts 4). But do we realize that in every one of those instances those folks had their backs against the wall to such a degree that they (and others) were facing extinction? They didn’t throw it on God’s back. They didn’t just wait for God to show up – they stood up, with courage, against the tide – and did so because it was the right thing to do, as if the battle were up to them, not merely God.
Today, we are leaving everything up to God – and it’s killing us. Literally.
Gone is the idea of the divine partnership to which God has called us. If we don’t wake up now, the next generation will look back at us and wonder what happened to the faith that was once synonymous with courage, valor, honor, beauty and determination, no matter what the cost.
Where’s your faith at this epic time in American and world history? Is your life more characterized by living comfortably or courageously? If the course we’re currently on continues, where will that leave us?