I woke up in a reasonably good mood this morning and looked through the paper, turned on the TV, listened to the radio, read some of my favorite blogs including the latest on the health care mandate and how religious organizations are reacting to it and slowly my mood got worse. It is not one thing that bothered me. It was everything. From a discussion of what I believe will go down as one of the stupidest questions ever uttered by a politician, “what difference does it make now?” when referrring to the attack and murder of Americans in Benghazi (Chamberlain’s statement was dumber but it wasn’t a question),;to the amount of news time spend on waking up a ground hog: to some of the statements made by clergy in their blogs; my mood got worse. Al Gore once famously bleated that “everything that ought to be up is down, and everything that should be down is up” before he and his partner were elected and presumably turned it all right side up. After he recently sold his TV company to the Arabs for what he would have once called an “obscene amount of money” I wonder if things are upside down again. Everything just seems out of kilter. The way we speak about things is just a bit off and the way people look at events are strange. There is no common perspective or even what I would call a desire to come to common ground, if even for a while.
Even in the church we can’t seem to get on the same page. Some in our fold are all about bringing people into the church and some are all about getting rid of some that are in. Some can’t figure out why Christianity is dead or dying in the West and we want to denigrate and criticize the expansion of Christianity in the emerging world. I would like to attribute that to something as mundane as racism but I feel it is something worse, a phariseeism with a financial greed component. So are we dead or dying because the society simply became secularized or is it because we didn’t heed the warnings and follow the right programs? Even those churches that seem to be growing and have not plateued in attendance are asking if they have moved so far from the theology of the Cross that they are really a self help society and have led the charge in removing the Gospel from its strange claim on men. Or are we seeing literally fulfilled the prophecy of Jesus himself In Matthew 24 that “many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Everyday and every discussion and every event is a glimpse into a hazy future where massive figures loom but cannot quite be identified and clearly seen. We seem to be headed into some truly strange uncharted areas and we are too unhinged as a society to deal with it. It seems the same in the church. About the only thing we seem to agree on is that we are to “witness to Christ” in word and deed but even that is subject to interpretation and evaluation on all kinds of levels.
It all reminded me of one of my favorite pictures. It is the great Rift Valley in Africa and this view is like my mood. The future for so many is a grand vista but viewed from the heights there are massive looming figures that hint at even larger ones behind. The
seemingly universal rejection of the Gospel by this generation hints at dark and dangerous things to come.
Martin Luther put it: “Since the Gospel is so despised, I suppose that Judgment Day is not far away … God’s Word will decline again and fall; and, because of a lack of upright and faithful servants of the Word, a great darkness will come. Then the whole world will turn wild and epicurean and will live wild and abandoned lives in all security. But then the voice will come and ring out ‘Behold, the bridegroom cometh’ for God will not be able to put up with conditions any longer.” (What Luther Says, # 2166, Concordia Publishing House, p. 697.)