Three Actions Every Believer Must Take in a Post-Christian Culture
A Challenge to All Followers of Jesus.
A few weeks back I wrote a blog based on the quote from the book of Esther asking how we are to respond if we were put on this planet, “for such a time as this”? I received a strong positive response and many people asked me to share some thoughts on what might comprise a truly Christ-centered response.
I’m glad to reply. Actually, I will do more than that. I am presenting this blog as a personal challenge to all of us who follow Jesus. We are facing unprecedented times in our country. Day by day our post-Christian culture tries its best to push God further from the public square. In the process, those on the front lines of Christian work are feeling increased pressure and a growing hostility toward their work.
If we are truly seeking to follow the Jesus of the Gospels, none of us are escaping the current cultural Christo-phobic backlash. To quote Francis Schaeffer, “how shall we then live?” Here are my three challenges, three practices I strongly encourage all of us to undertake with a renewed sense of commitment and urgency.
1. Intentional Encouragement
In the midst of an increasingly anti-Christian culture we no longer have the luxury of engaging in internal warfare within the Body of Christ. Truth is, we never did. But as the environment outside the church grows harsher, we must find new common ground inside and eliminate the character-attacks and vilification of those with whom we may disagree. Internal disputes that once seemed of great consequence will need to be reevaluated in light of the emerging external threat. I wrote a blog awhile back that caused some strong reaction among a handful of fellow believers. One blogger chose to refute my claims by using an image of a person having a bucket of water thrown in his face. This is what we must avoid. Publicly dousing brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we disagree only serves to perpetuate the image of backbiting Christians that is responsible for driving so many away from the faith, and providing evidence to many more of a gospel devoid of any promise of the transformed life of the Spirit.
This is a ripe moment in our history for followers of Jesus to rise up and encourage one another. To
“strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)
So my challenge is to commit to a life of intentional encouragement. Encourage those who are facing condemnation and rebuke for the sake of the gospel. Encourage your pastor. Find a fellow believer who serves in politics and encourage their faithfulness and steadfastness. Send a private email of support to a blogger under attack for speaking truth. Go pray for Christian leaders in your community; non-profit leaders, business leaders, military leaders, educational leaders and so forth. What might the Holy Spirit do to encourage troubled hearts if we all prayed over one Christian leader in our community every day? Will you commit to an intentional program of encouragement and step back from the temptation to publicly criticize a brother or sister in Christ? Save rebuke for the private chamber and let’s model for our culture a body of Christ that loves and encourages one another to good works for His glory.
2. Radical Generosity
This is the worst possible time for believers to become owners. Right now, as I write these words, tens of thousands of deserving non profits and churches are doing God’s work in powerful ways while struggling to find the funds to sustain and grow their ministry. Leaders who should be providing vision and courageous leadership instead are spending 50% or more of their time fundraising just to balance the budget.
Make no mistake, the work of the enemy is well-funded. There seems to be no reticence on behalf of our current culture shapers to fund what they are advancing. How about us? If every follower of Jesus committed to simply comply with the biblical tithe and truly gave 10% of their income first to God’s work, we would release tens of billions of dollars into kingdom work. Incredible! What is keeping you from trusting God to be your provider and investing what He has already given you into the work He is doing in your church, your community, across our country and around the globe?
If not now, church, when? What will it take? How much persecution will be required for us to rise up, open our checkbooks, bank accounts and portfolios and ensure that every ministry and work that champions the cause of Christ in our nation is flush with the funds it needs to take the fight to the enemy with full force? Will Christ return to find His work underfunded and your bank account intact?
I challenge all followers of Jesus to practice a unprecedented level of generosity and selfless, sacrificial giving. Now is the time. God has gifted His people to be the conduits through which His resources can flow to empower His work, “for such a time as this.”
3. Scriptural Engagement
Finally, if there was ever a time when we need to be absolutely certain of what we believe it is now. The days of superficial knowledge, shallow understanding and undisciplined study must end. NOW! We cannot engage in the spiritual battles of this day in our own strength. That’s what happens when we ignore study of God’s word. We are thrown back upon ourselves to engage the enemy, and we will fail.
We must repent of our functional biblical illiteracy and dive deeply into God’s word. We must become students of the word. Get a bible app with study helps, join a church bible study group or start one if you need to, set aside time every morning for concentrated, prayer assisted, soul searching study of God’s word.
This is not just a good idea, it is our very lifeblood! The time for nice excuses has passed. We are like sitting ducks in this world without God’s word in our hands and in our hearts. We cannot wait. This is not a January 2017 goal, this is a June 22nd imperative! Will you commit (which means a lot of other things get set aside and this becomes an absolute priority) to become a student of God’s word?
Imagine tens of millions of Jesus followers sending emails and letters of encouragement, praying for community leaders, modeling the love of Christ for all fellow believers, giving abundantly, joyfully and sacrificially and dedicating significant time every day to dive deeply into God’s word. What would God do through such a people?
Let’s find out. Today, today! Make one call of encouragement, write one check that hurts, and spend one hour in prayerful study of God’s word. In doing so may we be found to be faithful believers who understand that we were created, “for such a time as this.”