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When the Going Gets Tough

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” (John 6:66–68, ESV)

I don’t know if you keep up with current events, but unless your head is buried in the proverbial sand, you understand that the time is quickly coming that many of us will be tested.

Politics aside, there is little doubt that the Executive branch of the United States Federal government is at least unsympathetic to the natural rights of the citizens of our nation to practice their religion freely, if not explicitly opposed to those practices.

Not only has that particular group of would be tyrants implied that they have no respect for religious liberty, the culture has at its core decided that American Christians should keep their mouths shut when it comes to a perceived invasion of their sexual privacy. Sex is in fact the default religion of America today and our Constitution has been reinterpreted to represent that.

Not only has the tide turned against Christians in the good ole USA, but also the waves of progressivism and secularism are lapping up the liberty of all traditionalists, especially those who live between the great metropolises. As the knowledge of our history shrinks, the hatred of our basic freedoms grows. The first Amendments, our American first freedoms, are considered advantages for the “privileged white class”, the most hated of evil. Speech, guns, private property, and the rule of law are under attack and the movement has moved from fringe to popular to majority.

Unfortunately, many of our nation’s pulpits are filled with preachers who have never read John Locke and if they had would consider him unchristian. The man, who followed Calvin in his views of the role of civil government, accused those who would not resist tyranny of sin. “It is Christian duty”, Locke would say, “to resist tyranny”[1]. His ghost haunts the pages of our Declaration of Independence and his bent toward Calvinism color the words of the American pastors of the Colonial resistance to the King of England.

“Self-defence is a part of the law of nature; nor can it be denied the community, even against the king himself”-John Locke

Church has become a bastion of pacifists rather than one of truth and even those who wish to inform the laity of its duty to defend the Faith are not elated at the attitude of church leadership or the pew fillers who follow them. J Warner Wallace, the detective turned apologist from California who travels the country speaking to congregations with an energetic enthusiasm for apologetics, is quoted as saying,

I get the chance now to travel all over the country sharing the case for Christianity. I recognize the difference between student and adult congregations. While the Church seems to be satisfied with undemanding Sunday experiences, young people want so much more: They want answers. They are willing and ready to roll up their sleeves and prepare themselves. They want their own doubts answered and they want to respond to the skeptics in their lives. Sadly, the Church doesn’t seem to recognize this yet, and it definitely seems ill-equipped to meet the challenge…It’s time for the Church to raise up a generation of young people who are equipped with a Biblical worldview and can articulate this worldview with strength and conviction[2]

The point is this: the times are a changin’ and your feet are going to be held to the fire. Your mettle is going to be tested. If you are a follower, a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, and times get tough, are you going to leave him like the disciples of John 6:66?

Are you equipped to stand against the winds of change? How certain are you that your faith is well founded?

If you’re a pastor, what’s the apologetic health of your congregation? Have you and your leadership equipped them against the wolves that are approaching? Have you been faithful to your call to teach them what they believe and why they should believe it?

Elder, are you qualified to not only teach sound doctrine but also rebuke those who promote false doctrine? Are you willing to lead the congregation into the mouth of the battle for truth?

One of the greatest testimonies of the New Testament comes in Peter’s answer to Jesus when many disciples abandon Jesus and he asks those who stay, “Well, are you going to leave too?” (Donnie’s translation).

Peter’s reply is priceless. “Lord, to whom shall we go?”[3]

Let me ask you this. When it all goes down, do you have anyone else in whom to turn other than Jesus? If not, why don’t you take the time that you have to learn to answer the objections that people have to him? Why don’t you teach your flock that desperately hangs onto their faith in the midst of doubt and skepticism why the Bible is really true? Why don’t you lead by example and expose them to the right way to argue?

Don’t discourage engagement. It is unavoidable.

Don’t hide from controversy. Their lives are filled with it.

Don’t make your church merely a hospital when they need it to be a boot camp.

In my opinion, Jesus is one of the most difficult people to understand in the Bible. He didn’t place everything on the bottom shelf. He made people think on purpose. He engaged the skeptics of his day. Sometimes people just couldn’t take it and they left.

Sadly, many times when the going gets tough, well you know the rest.

The question is, are you going to leave too?

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried. -G. K. Chesterton[4]

 

 

[1] http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/222

[2] Students Love Answers More Than the Church Loves Answers)

 

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Jn 6:68). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Donnie
I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice
http://www.southernbyhisgrace.com

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