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Even the most Bible-resistant are well aware, deep down, that they ought to spend at least some time contemplating life’s “Big Questions.” Who am I…where did I come from…why am I here…how do I know what I know…where am I going…how do I get there…what’s my purpose? Sadly, the deeply penetrating nature of these challenges often leads to their being shunted aside because they require more soul searching than the average preoccupied American wants to spend, including even many preoccupied pastors. The depth of these big issue puzzles makes even Bible study and memorization seem easy in comparison. But, either way, there’s no escaping them. Turning to the descriptions of natural revelation found in Romans 1:18-19, 2:14-15, Psalm 19:1-6, Acts 14:17 and elsewhere verifies that these questions forever gnaw at us if we are made in His image, which we all are, even the Bible-resistant.
However, for those who seek out and find the right answers before their hearts become hardened in defiance, there comes the gratifying knowledge of a direct relationship between a successful search for the answers and the enhanced ability to better govern self and family and the ability to be more effective in kindly countering the culture-undermining and contrarian worldviews of secular friends and neighbors.
Ducking this assignment, however, guarantees serious consequences. If the challenges aren’t tackled at all or if or if I get them wrong – and the earlier in life we all face up to them the better – then my relationship with my spouse, children and grandchildren suffers. Furthermore, I unwisely limit my ability to be the mature team player and salt and light provider in the community the church body needs me to be in the battle for the Lord’s cultural mandate (Genesis 1:26-28). Why do so few fail to step up to this responsibility in a mature way? What competes for the time requirements necessary for serious contemplation of life’s most important issues?
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Sure, the one-day-at-a-time realities of getting one’s family safely and sensibly through all the assorted educational, vocational and social struggles makes it tempting to demote these questions to last place in the hierarchy of duties. Yet among all the various distractions acting in opposition to spiritual homework tasks there are two dedication-draining weapons of psychological mass destruction that stand out. Reluctant credit must be given to mainstream media’s persistence in super-saturating hearts and minds with their leftist, Christ-hating agenda with its attendant crowding-out power. The tenor and sheer volume of continuously bad economic, political, violence-linked, criminal, and – more recently – terrorist related news, guarantees that many will be terminally discouraged. The psychological grief wears you down, incapacitates you for service and can lead to fatalism regarding life’s big issues. Nor is the national education establishment very far behind in its parallel goal of mind control, confusion, despair – yea, even nihilism – among the young and especially among the Christian young.
A second, slightly more subtle form of battle fatigue exists and can be discovered if one searches out internet phrases such as, “no longer a Christian nation,” “not a Christian nation” or “post-Christian nation” as related to the United States. A recent (Google) search revealed 350 hits for the first phrase, around 2300 for the second and over 39,000 for the third. Although representing a wide range of opinions, the general consensus is that Christendom in the post-modern West is on the verge of permanent defeat if, in fact, such a “post-Christian” society is not already here.
All pro-humanist, atheistic, liberal and separation-of-church-and-state contributors to these sites proclaim great joy over this very discouraging “fact.” But, even though others don’t believe national spiritual deterioration has reached such a terminus, there are many Christian sites (mainly dispensational), which seem willing to take comfort in this gloomy post-Christian assessment. They insist on seeing negative cultural events as a holy herald of Christ’s soon return; a return that won’t happen until Christianity’s inevitable “end of the age” defeat which (so they say) is nearly upon us. In fairness, other sites theorized that Christianity’s waning influence should act as a wake-up call for renewed activism. However, other than slogan-like suggestions for more prayer, more evangelism, more Bible reading, repentance and a turning back to God, these sites were notably short on specific prescriptions for converting these admirable recommendations into nuts and bolts remedies for the cultural disease in our midst. Gideon carefully observed all these admonitions but he also girded himself up with trumpets, lamps and swords to carry the battle to the enemy. So did Paul. So did David. So did Martin Luther. So should we.
Let’s face facts. With multiple negative propaganda missiles continually raining down upon us from foe and friend alike, it’s easy to see why even thoughtful Christians have trouble making committed resolutions to faithfully do the right thing as God instructed His people in Joshua 1:5-9, 2 Timothy 3:16 and Matthew 28:18-20, to mention just a few. This is especially so because weak human flesh doesn’t want to do the difficult thing anyway, even in the best of times. A practical way is needed to counter the prevailing national gloom, to encourage squarely facing life’s big questions and to get busy with the cultural mandate.
With the above as background, we come to a crossroads. Although this article has a beginning and a middle, there is no conclusion. Instead, the conclusion remains to be provided – or not – by you, the reader. Whatever your conclusions will be when you finish reading this article, you will, in the fullness of time, be judged for your decision to act or not by a jury. Not a jury of your peers, but one composed of your grandchildren and their generation... (Continued October 27, 2004)