Could the church in America be entering a period of “cultural exile”? Church historian, Carl Trueman of Westminster Seminary thinks so. “The strident rhetoric of scientism has made belief in the supernatural look ridiculous. The Pill, no-fault divorce, and now gay marriage have made traditional sexual ethics look outmoded at best and hateful at worst. The Western public square is no longer a place where Christians feel they belong with any degree of comfort…It’s an exile to cultural irrelevance.” Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, has observed, “People who uphold a traditional moral architecture for sexuality, marriage, and family have gone, in the space of just the twenty years, from mainstream conviction to the equivalent of racist and bigots.” A coup has taken place, and in the words of the archbishop, “the secular team won, the religious team lost.” Are we becoming a church is exile?
What do you men think? I for one, lean towards the idea of the church communities becoming, “creative minorities” intentionally wanting to be a light in the midst of growing darkness. Jesus tells us as his followers “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill…..Keep open house, be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, the generous Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:14 & 16 – Message). As a cultural darkness descend on us, we have the wonderful opportunity as “the church in exile” to be a bright light. While we may lament the condition of our nation, we should be praying the prayer of Habakkuk, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make the known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Hab 3:2)
Could it be that we need to embrace the gift of being exiles, “now that Christendom – the forms and structures of a Christianly-orientated culture” in the words of Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Seminary, “has fallen away.” Could the words of former Cardinal Ratzinger apply to America as they do to Europe. “Christian believers should look upon themselves as just such a creative minority….” Is there the possibility of exile, that is, living in a alien culture. What would that mean for men. Here are a few of my wonderings.
First, as men we need to evaluate our walk with the Lord. Are we under the Lordship of Jesus, being committed to the authority of God’s word. The sovereignty of the Lordship of Jesus and the issue of truth will be contested in the days to come. Are you ready to be challenged as never before for being “a committed follower of Jesus” in a strange land. Secondly, by all means, find another man or a group of men who can help you discern the signs of the times. I know I need that from my post here in the woods. What is God saying to the church in your community. Thirdly, become sensitive to the wounded warriors and fallen brothers in your community. There is going to be causalities from the spiritual warfare in the days to come. Lovingly come along side these brothers. Fourthly, get your priorities straight. Give your best energy to the “first things” in your life. After Jesus, be the priest in your family, and a faithful servant in your sphere of influence.