The Christian Difference – 1

True democracies began and continue to be guided by a consensus of the will of its people.  That is the definition of democracy.  What the people think and believe becomes the basis for what is done.  Every day, however, Christianity becomes less of a factor in forming the consensus of thought in Western societies.  Western culture has slipped its moral moorings and begun to drift on the ocean of relativity, where there is no absolute truth.

Hosea 4
6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
“Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children.

In reality, we have given up without a fight.  We have been slow and weak in our response to evil.  We have laid down and let Satan run over us.  It is reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain signing the Munich Pact with Hitler in 1938 at great and tragic cost.  Winston Churchill’s comments on that pact are apropos.

The people should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war…they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history…and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: ‘Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.’  And do not suppose this is the end.  This is only the beginning of the reckoning.  This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless, by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden times.”

If you change but a few words, Churchill’s statement applies to the status of Christianity today.  We too have sustained a defeat without a war.  We too have passed an awful milestone in our history.  The followers of Christ have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.  And, I fear that the reckoning has only begun…a bitter cup proffered to us by those controlled by Satan.  The only answer is REVIVAL…a recovery of moral health and martial vigor that causes us to arise again and take our stand for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Isaiah prophesied (so applicable today):

Isaiah 59
13 rebellion and treachery against the LORD,
turning our backs on our God,
fomenting oppression and revolt,
uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
14 So justice is driven back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
honesty cannot enter.
15 Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
The LORD looked and was displeased
that there was no justice.

Edward Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire said that five attributes marked Rome at its end.

  1. A growing love of show and luxury (affluence)
  2. A widening gap between the very rich and the very poor
  3. An obsession with sex
  4. Freakishness in the arts masquerading as originality and creativity
  5. An increased desire to live off the state

Sound familiar?  You’ll have to agree that, as a culture, we are traveling down the long, but well-worn road to Rome.

Francis Schaeffer, in his book, How Should We Then Live? (1976. Fleming H. Revell Company) wrote, “As the more Christian-dominated consensus weakened, the majority of people adopted two impoverished values: personal peace and affluence.” He further explained,

Personal peace means just to be left alone, not to be troubled by the troubles of other people, whether across the world or across the city – to live one’s life with minimal possibilities of being personally disturbed.  Personal peace means wanting to have my personal life pattern undisturbed in my lifetime, regardless of what the result will be in the lifetimes of my children and grandchildren.  Affluence means an overwhelming and ever-increasing prosperity – a life made up of things, things, and more things – a success judged by an ever-higher level of material abundance (p. 205).

What Schaeffer calls “personal peace” I call isolationism.  How well do we know our neighbors?  How much are we willing to become involved in their problems and troubles?  How uncomfortable are we willing to become on the behalf of others?  When it comes to possessions, when will we have enough?  Will it be the best of everything in ever increasing quantities?  In these two areas, it is easy to get swept up in the culture in which we live.  I’ve been sucked-in and most likely so have you.

But we are Christians. To say that will become increasingly unpopular and provocative.  To be a Christian in this culture means that we will become more and more different from our neighbors.  But what differences?  What will people see…what should they discern as they observe our Christian lifestyle?  In subsequent articles, I want to call us back to a few things that distinguish us from those in the world.  And, if they don’t, they should!  These are characteristics that we must not relinquish, but must embrace with an ever increasing vigor, commitment and sense of purpose.  Stay tuned.


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5 Comments

Filed under church, Community, Culture Wars, Good & Evil, Kingdom Growth, Missions/Evangelism, morality, Religion, Theism

5 responses to “The Christian Difference – 1

  1. vonbunge

    Mr. Whitsett,
    Regardless of the fact that we share a mindset which is bent upon leading the effort for a solution to the immediate issues we see around us in the Christian realm, you have far surpassed in this writing my ability to discern and identify a root cause of the moral decay we observe around us. Thank you for being a lighthouse of truth, and a tower of courage.

    I whole-heartedly agree with your words here, and share your passion for the remedy to the apathetic attitude that spreads popularly amongst our society. I will look forward to you future posts, and I hope that you find courage and solace knowing that, as far as I am concerned, you are far from alone. I will strive with you to remedy the seriousness of the collective, social tendency to disregard the truths of self-sacrifice, and serve with you to labor in changing the landscape in which we find ourselves. I feel a bit like Amos, as I am sure that you do too.

    Thank you for staying strong,
    Von Bunge

  2. Dwight:

    Your posts always ring true in my mind and heart. This one, however, hit especially close to home.

    A summary of something I heard in a sermon recently: “Christ evaluates His church based on the benefits it distributes to non-members. More and more people in affluent North America evaluate a church based on the benefits it confers upon its members.”

    In other words, the church of the Living God is merely following the popular culture into selfishness, isolationism, and hedonism. Shame on us.

    A few weeks ago I tried to facilitate a discussion about the widening gap between true Christian discipleship and the values of North American culture. I mentioned some of the cultural milestones to which you refer as indicating our moral decline as a people. My ultimate “take home” was that if there ever was a time in history when the church needed godly, mature, Spirit-filled, discerning leaders that time is now!

    Two weeks later a brother (one of our former Elders) got up and basically told the church that I was full of baloney! Culture is no better or worse now than it has ever been, leadership is always a pressing need, global warming is a hoax (why he chose this issue is beyond me since I don’t recall even mentioning global warming), and anyone who thinks otherwise is an alarmist who has some kind of hidden agenda.

    The tragedy is, as you and I discuss all the time, that the real problem is that the God-ordained mission of the church is no longer on the radar screen. An Institution that evaluates itself based on the benefits it confers on its own members and is offended by anyone who suggests that it ought to consider evaluating itself based on the benefits it distributes to non members may be an excellent Country Club but can hardly make a claim to be the church established by the self-sacrificing Lamb of God.

    Love you brother. Thanks for letting me vent.

    In Him,

    Bob

  3. Bob Chapman

    Dwight,

    “The only answer is REVIVAL…” you wrote.

    I couldn’t agree more with what you have said and the solution you have called for.

    Sadly though, as long as we try to revive a “church” that doesn’t want to be revived we will continue to fall foul of “its spiritual policepersons” whose sole self-appointed call is to uphold the supposed infallibility of the “established doctrines and practices” embraced since Stone and Campbell first proffered them.

    Revival is good but realizing we are the most powerful people in the world, called into the kingdom of God and gathering as the called out ones (church) who are bent on saving souls by all means possible, should be the only thing that matters to us.

    Revival won’t come to the Church of Christ until it is willing to realise that the church God placed us in after we were saved (Acts 2:47) is first and foremost His kingdom on earth and it has been granted all power and authority over Satan and his kingdom. The reality of this will mostly be seen outside building walls and on the way to fulfill His call on our lives, which existed before the foundation of the world, Eph. 2:10.

    Blessings
    Bob Chapman

  4. Kay Malan

    Dwight – thank you for the well written post about the difference which Christians are supposed to be making, but are not.
    I thought I would share something encouraging with you.
    Our congregation is located in a area of town which is in a major economic decline. The leadership has seen the opportunity do more in reaching out to the people living on our doorstep, and they are backing all kinds of outreach initiatives begun by the ordinary members of the family. We have made contact with the residents of a nearby apartment community, at their complex, through an ice-cream social, a children story-time hour, and assistance from our food pantry. The food pantry has grown enormously over the past couple of years and groceries are available all the time and especially 3 days a week; counseling and prayer are offered with the groceries also. A local elementary school has given us the opportunity to partner with them through school supplies, volunteer hours, a one-on-0ne mentoring program, clothing giveaway, and social events held at our building for them or by them. Early next month a large group of us will be going to the school to do some maintenance work all day Saturday and SUNDAY morning. Then also (I don’t say finally), a group has trained in Friend Speak to reach out to those in our area who do not have English as a first language. We are praying to make contact with Readers and we are still in the process of getting this venture off the ground.
    I tell you this so that you will not become disheartened. The power of the Kingdom is that God’s work goes on in the hearts and lives of individuals who are led by his Spirit. We do live in a dark time but just remember that the biggest lights in a football stadium are still measured in terms candela, i.e. candlepower – one little light at a time.

  5. dwhitsett

    Kay,
    I hope everyone reads your comment because this is exactly what we should be about. If all Christian fellowships were impacting their communities as is your congregation, there would be no fading of Western Christianity. Too many limit most of their activities to what is done within their walls. This will never do! I am confident that the course you and your fellowship has taken will result in many entering the kingdom.
    If I am disheartened, it is because your group is exceptional. At the same time, I am encouraged to know that such a group exists. May your tribe increase!
    Another reason for being encouraged is because so many now are realizing that “business as usual” will mean the same results as usual. There seems to be a movement, growing steadily stronger (if you can judge by the number of books and articles), toward becoming what God would have us to be. Now if we can move from talk to walk. We shall see.
    Thank you for your great comment.

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