At the recent funeral of Cardinal Meisner in Germany, retired Pope Benedict had a short message read from him. It included this telling paragraph: “We know that this passionate pastor and shepherd found it particularly difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination…. in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon his church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.”
This is not the first time Pope Benedict has sounded an alarm regarding the health of the church. Back in 2005, the then Cardinal Ratzinger spoke prophetically regarding the church in the West. “……relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by wind of doctrine,” seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times.” “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” Then later as Pope Benedict XVI he warned that the spiritual crisis the West faces is worse than anything since the fifth-century fall of the Roman Empire.
In 2010, as Benedict XVI, he gave an address at Westminster Hall entitled “the real challenge for democracy.” He said: “If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, the fragility of the process becomes all too evident.” I personally believe the former Pope has courageously spoken as a prophet in an attempt to wake up the church in the West to the dangers it faces.
Christian Smith, a sociologist at Notre Dame, has found what he calls “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” displacing authentic Christianity among American Christians. The highest goal of MTD is being happy and feeling good about oneself. It is a religious practice that suits a self-centered, consumerist culture. “America has lived a long time off its thin Christian veneer,” observes Mr. Smith. “That is all finally being stripped away by the combination of mass consumer capitalism and liberal individualism.”
Men, my advice, as it has been throughout my years as a pastor, is when we become confused and uncertain due to the cultural storms, look to Jesus, cling to Jesus and cry out to Jesus for mercy. Put yourself under the lordship of Jesus and rejoice that you are part of his everlasting kingdom being manifested in the earth. Pray prayers of protection for yourself and your family.
Remember the words of Paul: “And so I insist – and God backs me up on this -that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God, but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion” (Eph 4:17-19 – Message).
Take this warning to heart. Be careful not to absorb the conflicting narrative of the dominant culture. Separated from ultimate truth, it become “empty-headed” and “mindless,” out of touch with reality, and unable to think straight. Often the result is to become obsessed with sexuality and perversion. Rather, look to, cling to and cry out to Jesus.