In times like these, what do we do to prepare ourselves? If a moment of “defiance” is going to come, what should we do to get ready? This is an appropriate question in the wake of these Planned Parenthood videos, because it is quite possible that the moment has already come.
How should we think? Some Christians think we should drop everything and get involved because the secularists are taking over America and we have to get organized and stop them. Other Christians disparage political involvement and say we should get back to “preaching the gospel”—but the gospel they want to preach is as impotent as might be expected. In contrast to both these options, we assert the duty of the Church in preaching a world-transforming gospel, a gospel that will take our unbelieving culture, turn it upside down, and shake it until all the change falls out of its pockets.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16).
Before we recover our freedoms, we must recover our sanity. But this will never happen outside the presence of the Most High God. And His presence is ministered to us in the biblical worship of the saints as we gather to sing, hear, preach, and feast at His Table. That is the context of all that follows.
The Heresy of the Lowest Common Denominator
For well over a century, evangelical Christians have sought unity by minimizing truth (because truth “divides” you know), and we want to be united. This is particularly obvious in political coalition building—we do not talk about what divides us so that we can get on with the business of “lobbying.” But this refusal to talk about what divides us is actually a refusal to talk about what is wrong with us. And this we do because we are unwilling to repent of our sins.
We say to the unbelieving world that it must repent of its great and grievous sins. What would we say if they replied (as they could, and do), “you are the Church. Show us how.”
A sick and dying culture needs the maximum amount of truth, which never comes in teaspoon doses.
A Future and a Hope
These videos are simply God’s return volley to the Obergefell decision. What did God say to Israel in exile? “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11, ESV). In the conclusion of his opinion in Obergefell, Scalia wrote this prescient sentence.
“With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them – with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the ‘reasoned judgment’ of a bare majority of this Court – we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.”
That is what is happening right now. Our nation acquiesced to Roe, which we should not have done. That acquiescence makes the entire nation complicit, but God in His great mercy has presented us with an opportunity to repent of that complicity. In 1973, we saw Gross Constitutional Overreach A, and we did nothing. In 2015, Gross Constitutional Overreach B arrived, as it had to, given A, and then God—whose mercies are everlasting —gave us an opportunity to react to A the way we should have the first time. We are now being given an opportunity to undo Roe and to do so by direct action.
A Salty Church
Before the world will glorify our Father in heaven, we need the miracle of restored saltiness. And what will that be like?
It will be characterized by potency in the gospel—we must always keep an undiluted gospel central. “ . . . but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:23-25). This is effective, but not in a way which the worldly enjoy. “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).
It will be characterized by true wisdom —the way back will not be shown to us by the various evangelical pollsters, church growth experts, consultants, managers, handlers, suits and haircuts, those always sure to cluster around any work that looks like it might make a buck—because they are in business, and in business, the customer is always right. But we are not in business, and we have no customers here, only sinners and forgiven saints. Our clear duty is to present the scandal and offensiveness of the truth both winsomely and pungently. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6).
It must be characterized by glory in worship —as we shine the light of worship in the world, we teach the world to worship. When we do this, we teach the kings of the earth the meaning of worship. Princes also shall worship . . . (Is. 49:6-7).
It will be characterized by forgiveness that laughs—this is the great lesson. Our first temptation is to be oblivious to the claims of Christ. Then, when they are borne in on us, we are tempted to a spiritual despair. But this is not the call of God.
“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep. ‘For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’” (Neh. 8:9-10).