Part of embracing a Christian worldview, and one of the key habits we teach at Worldview at the Abbey, is the call to engage our culture for Christ. We are called to be ambassadors everywhere we go and in everything we do. While I imagine that few Christians will reject this idea in principle, acting on it can be difficult and demoralizing at times.
Our culture seems to be intent on suicide. Determined to reject the truth of what is, in favor of the lie of what is pleasurable or convenient. We see this continued march of rebellion in nearly every area of our society: the devaluation of life, the rejection of ordained sexuality, the praising of all that is raised in opposition to God. Wading into this fight and carrying the Gospel forward is taxing under the best of circumstances when fruit is obvious and good is being achieved. Yet even then it can be difficult to remain faithful to our call to preach truth.
Even more so in the face of a culture that is more inclined to try and shout down truth than argue with it, a culture that chooses to glory in its rebellion and expects Christians to submit to its norms. How are we to respond to a culture that not only disagrees, doesn’t want to hear, but also is daily becoming more and more hostile in word and deed?
One option is to bunker down. To look at the fight around us and to retreat, huddle together, and try to ride out the storm. While perhaps easy to reject this idea, I fear this is all too often the choice we make. Wrapped in a true expectation of Christ’s promised return, I know there is a temptation to cast up our hands and say, “even so come quickly, Lord Jesus.” And while confidence in His word and prayers of this kind are certainly appropriate, they do not provide license to surrender the field of battle.
Every generation of the church has believed it could be the one to see Christ’s return, even back to the Apostles. We are called to live as if He could return at any moment but promised that no one knows the day or the hour of His appearance. Until He actual does step forward in glory, any speculation of His return is just that: speculation.
Additionally, nowhere in scripture indicates that this world cannot get better before the end. Christianity carries truth that results in not only the salvation of souls but can lead to real good being brought about in this world. Good ideas have good consequences. There was a time when slavery was a normal, accepted part of our culture. It isn’t anymore because of the triumph of good ideas. There was a time when fascist states were systematically murdering millions of people. It isn’t anymore because people were willing to resist, based on biblical truth. Good can be accomplished in this world.
Granted, this is far more difficult in the face of a culture hostile to truth, and in times that seem to be filled with more defeat than victory. I see for these days an interesting tie to the Norse idea of Ragnarök. In Viking myth, the end of days comes in the context of a final titanic battle between the gods of good and evil in which the good gods lose. The most interesting element of the story to me has always been that the good gods know that they are destined to lose. Defeat is theirs, yet they choose to fight anyway. They choose to go down swinging.
The overall call on the Christian is the call to faithfulness. All throughout scripture we are called to live in a fashion reflecting Christlikeness. Ephesians 6 tells us to “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
Imbedded in the call to faithfulness is the call to trust. We do not serve a cosmic vending machine that assures us of particular results attached to particular actions. We serve a good God who promises to be true to His character and the words He has said. What this means is that the fruit of our faithfulness may not be what we desire, and it may be the case that in the face of our actions, the culture continues to pursue death. The God we serve is the God of eternal results, and though good may not be obvious, we are promised it is ultimate.
This is where we depart from our Viking friends. Despite whatever apparent failures, the end result promised is that the good God wins, and in fact has already won. Further, it’s promised that our faithfulness as servants is used in the manifestation of that victory; we get to be “more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.” And though in the experiences of this life, we may, like Paul, be called to be “poured out as a drink offering,” we still serve the God who holds the results of all things in His hands.
Stay faithful. Despite the apparent consequences, stay faithful. In the face of seeming defeats, stay faithful. Though it may seem as if we go down swinging, stay faithful. With confidence in He who is already victorious, stay faithful.