Men there is no neutral ground in our spiritual journey today. Jesus declares, “This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse” (Luke 11:23 – The Message). In Matthew 10: 22-23 we are exhorted to be survivors. “When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate. But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived” – The Message.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1969 before he became Pope Benedict XVI, seemed to be taking about survival. “From the crisis of today a new Church of tomorrow will emerge – a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so she will lose many of her social privileges…. .But in all [this]…..the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world.”
Has “the cultural and political tsunami” described by the Cardinal now reached our shores? Are Christians, “losing their home field advantage?” Christianity is not necessarily collapsing, but rather being clarified. As Ed Stetzer at Christianity Today puts it, “Christianity is no longer the first choice of many seeking spiritual meaning and identifying as Christian is not necessary to be an accepted part of society.” Tim Keller maintains, “The number of the devout people in the country is increasing, as well as the number of secular people ….. the big change is the erosion in the middle…..you don’t so much see secularization as polarization” as the middle erodes.
The forces of secularization, along with a distrust and outright rejection of biblical faith is having an eroding effect on the church in America. Cultural Christianity, which makes up the middle is eroding. Men, the storm clouds are gathering over our culture. In the days to come, each of us will be faced with how we will choose to follow Jesus. Don’t allow yourself to be found in the middle, like a bench warmer and not a player. I want to be found among those who not only survive, but thrive in the midst of the collapse of cultural Christianity. We need to heed the warnings given by Jesus to be aware of the changes taking place. I assure you as a committed follower of Jesus, you will be made to choose.
We hear Jesus saying to us in Mark 13, “Watch out that no one deceives you”(v 5), “”You must be on your guard” (v 9), “So be on your guard” (v 23), “Be on guard! Be alert!” (v 33). Jesus reminds us to learn from the fig tree. “From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. And so it is with you. When you see all these things, you know he is at the door ” (Mark 13:28-30 – The Message). The implication of these words are to pay attention to the changes taking place right before your eyes.