Monday, April 21, 2014

"From the Ashes"

     The column’s title postulated a dire prospect: “Why Christianity Is Dying In Great Britain.”  The writer accurately depicted the societal, cultural, moral, and religious changes that have happened in England for many years, suggesting that the country has largely either left the notion of God behind, or is moving toward a different religious milieu.

    However, is Christianity really dying in Great Britain?  Can it actually die there or anywhere?  It cannot, that is, if we consider the matter not merely in an institutional sense, but in terms of the very definition of the spiritual reality birthed by its crucified and risen Founder. 

    “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God” (Romans 6:9-10).

    Just as in His earthly life, so the reports of our Lord’s cultural demise are always, to borrow from Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated.  As we often suggest, so much of His doing occurs under the surface and behind the scenes that God’s working often requires us to confess with Jacob after his dream of the angelic ladder,  “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not!” (Genesis 28:16).  Moreover, the cross of the Lord Jesus upon which our faith began seemed like an event bereft of God’s presence and working rather than the truth that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself” (II Corinthians 5:19).  We can thus be sure that the Spirit of God executes the purposes of God regardless of appearances that may indicate otherwise.  “The Light shineth in darkness” (John 1:5).

    Certainly, the spiritual condition of Great Britain and of all nations in this hour of history presents a troubling prospect.  We need not, however, worry that Christianity, if we reference the reality as opposed to the institution, will somehow perish from the nations.  Far from it.  Again, our faith began in death and resurrection as enacted in our Lord’s personal history.  The same dynamic process takes place in our lives and in the ebb and flow of nations, cultures, and societies.  The Lord always has His people, whether along public pathways or in catacombs, and the risen Christ still walks and works among all.  He may be harder to see in some venues, but He is there nonetheless.  Death presages resurrection where the Lord Jesus is involved, and He is involved everywhere and in all things.  “The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3).

    Great Britain’s drift from truth and reality grieves me, as does the same in my own nation, the United States.  I seek to remember, however, that as long as the tomb once occupied by our Lord remains empty, we live in the light of His victory.  Through the ages, our enemies have been allowed by God much liberty in setting afire the Gospel of Christ, only to see its flames of grace reignite from the ashes.  Let us pray that the believers of England will see the opportunities provided by the growing darkness to shine every more brightly for the glory of God.  And let us see all look for the same in our own nations and personal venues of life and ministry.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”
(Romans 8:35-37)

Weekly Memory Verse
    For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
(Ephesians 2:18)

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