And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 1Kings 19:11-12
There is something going on in our culture that genuinely makes me feel anxious. Well, I’m not sure if ‘anxious’ is the proper word, because it is not in the sense of worry, but I don’t really know how else to describe it. I know it makes me ill at ease, it makes me feel strangely disquieted in my spirit. Maybe you have felt this too, let me know what you think. And I am not just speaking of the world, either. I think the church is in “hyper-drive” too.
There is a cultural uproar going on. It invades every nook and cranny of life, and it jangles the nerves and hijacks the senses. I guess it might be similar in concept biblically to the ‘tossing of the waves’. People seem to be wound pretty tightly, particularly the generation just following mine, and they seem so immune to the rumble and roar around them I wonder if there is an attention deficit disorder pandemic going on.
I am a baby boomer, and while we have our share of flaws, and for all the attention we garnered during the rebellious hippie movement, I think all in all, having been raised by the World War II generation with their sort of reserved sense of dignity, their gentility and respect for God and country, we got a pretty good start in life. They had a very unique collective personality that we have not seen since nor will we ever see the likes of again because of the times in which we live.
I was privy to a time, albeit rather short, when people had manners, common sense, knew when to be quiet, and had a sense of propriety about issues that do not belong in the public forum. And right in the middle of their prime, when they were raising their kids, the waves began being tossed – in the ‘60s, when normal societal barriers that they were accustomed to started to come down. With the advent of the common experiences of television and mass-produced music, sinful and unregenerate souls at the forefront of the media frontier began to push the envelope in areas of modesty and propriety. Shame went out the window and things that were only spoken of behind closed doors were now flaunted for all to hear and see as though public approval was being sought for any wicked thing imaginable. With each passing year since, I continue to be offended on a daily basis by the endless litany of sin and man’s inhumanity to man that assaults my senses. Those of us who were raised by the generation that lived through the depression and at least one world war are now leading the free world and in spite of the fact that we tend toward narcissism, our rebellion at it’s zenith doesn’t hold a candle to today’s judgment-ready generation. Somebody please press ‘start’.
Now, in every generation, despite those who plumb new depths of depravity and lead the culture in lowering the bar for wickedness, there are those who ‘walk in truth’ because God is a God of grace and promises kept. I have made every effort to raise my child to reflect her parents’ own sensibilities and by God’s grace she has picked up the good and tossed out the flawed of my own generation and maturity level. She truly is a testimony of the work of the Holy Spirit in her generation, as are other uncompromising Christian youth. The Bible says that ‘I have no greater joy than that my children walk in truth’ – and let me tell you there is no truer Scripture. NO greater joy? You betcha. But let me say that there is something else going on with the younger set at large that truly disturbs me. Not just the heathen, I expect them to act out their cultural markers. So be it. But there is an air of intensity that borders on ‘in your face’ that permeates all of this culture and for someone like myself who is a private person, who respects others’ privacy and is not interested in the olympic sport of ‘sin-sniffing’, it is tough for me to watch. Very tough. Forget putting a letter of the alphabet after the word “Generation” to describe this. We have run out of letters, so I call them ‘Generation On Demand’. And they are demanding. Even those who proclaim faith in Christ are reaping things other than the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Why?
Want your instant entertainment? It’s “on demand” in your own home theater. Don’t want to wait for dinner? It’s “on demand” at your local fill-in-the-blank microwave restaurant. It doesn’t taste at all like home cooking, (which people still do….really!) and is devoid of nutrition, but who cares? It was quick and instant gratification was achieved. Not feeling well? Just go to the doc and demand that pharmaceutical you saw on the tube, and you will be ready to go in no time. Side effects? What side effects? As Scarlett O’Hara would say, ‘I’ll worry about that tomorrow.” Now is what counts. (Side effects of the on-demand life, however, may include the inability to use common sense, have a complete thought, relate to humans on a meaningful level, ponder the meaning of life, and also cause those little headphones to actually become permanently embedded in our ears.)
What’s going on in the world? Well, that’s a no-brainer, we are on media overload. Turn on any 24-hour news channel, or just Google any subject and you will not only get pre-digested stories complete with spin-cycle, but as an added bonus (side effect?) you will find that nearly everyone, in any corner of the globe, likely has an opinion about nearly everything. You don’t know about the latest injustice in the world? What’s wrong with you, you obviously aren’t “plugged in” from head to toe. And not only do they have chronic opinion disease, it causes running mouth, and what does that lead to? Egging on everyone else until – you guessed it – the waves are tossing and the sea is foaming about the latest issue. Want justice? Turn on Court TV, or if that process is too slow, just start a blog or email list and rant about something that you are peeved about and stir up that proverbial pot. Isn’t there a drug for chronic opinion disease yet?
When Don Imus, whom we all know was a pot-stirrer anyway, fell on his own verbal sword, the masses wasted no time in demanding his head. Which proves only one thing, that if you get people whipped up enough you can have that kind of world where justice IS on demand. It’s called ‘vigilante-ism”. Whether they comprehend it or not, I believe that people do see that there is more sin in the world, more injustice, and more self-centeredness, and so this instantly gratifying ‘judging’ could be a result of everyone just living on evil overload. But there is a scary kind of flaw in this system too. It does not allow for reasonable discourse, or an exhaustive dissemination of truth, (which could come in handy if you’re the one on the spot) only hasty decisions that come from the seat of emotion, that soulish place that brings people together who are all bent out of shape over the same thing, but rarely if ever does it accomplish anything of value since those foaming waves tend to toss the boat about for a while and then just ultimately sink it anyway. Who is the One who calms the seas of life? I guess the One Who is not being consulted about anything much anymore, because we sort of like that tossed-about feeling, or so it would seem. And when it comes time for the Christians to be silenced because we are just too narrow and intolerant, you can expect that to be instantly gratifying as well to those who are just so tired of us calling a sin a sin.
When the internet came along in the mid-90s, I thought it was a wonderful concept in that it provided a window on the world that could very well open up on the accumulated knowledge of the ages; on vistas and cultures that in our isolation we would never be able to appreciate or understand. I thought the common denominator in those early days of the world wide web would be the pursuit of knowledge. What I didn’t anticipate, and surely should have, is that a mere 10 years later, it continues to live down to itself and the lowest common denominator possible – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. With millions of websites, and potentially one for every person on earth, if you could turn up a volume knob somehow on this clamor, the resulting roar would be atom-splitting. Not only is it opinion-generated, it brings so much distraction and noise INTO our lives. Even if all you did was watch You Tube videos and download music, you could spend your days doing nothing but obsessively trying to stay on top of what is cool, ‘breaking’, and instantly gratifying. Hey! Over here! Watch this – think about this – listen to that. And since not only are worldly pursuits represented, some quite vile, but the internet has provided all those given to spiritual pursuits the opportunity to speak, be spoken to, about, for, and with. E-cards, E-mail, E-pinions. Any cult can have their professionally served webpage. Any heretic can blog away, gain any number of followers and deceive the surfer – because of all the demands we demandingly demand, discernment isn’t one of them. That’s because to be a student of the Word and stay on top of rampant global deception takes time, thought, prayer and study. No instant gratification involved, so why bother?
What am I getting at here? I have concerns about the culture. Surprise! No, not the culture per se, but the church starting to look, smell, walk and talk like the culture without even realizing it. Take for example the new Emerging church movement thing. It talks a lot–there seems to be an inordinate amount of hot air involved and not much genuine abiding in the Vine, or listening for that still small voice. Never mind it is called a ‘conversation’, it is tailor made for blog-land and fits the ‘net like it was made for it. I call it the First Church of the Internet. Tailor made for the Starbucks slouch-couch crowd. It lends itself to smugness, political/religious correctness, and high-mindedness, as though there were some sort of evangelical gnosticism that only a few are privy to.
They talk about what’s wrong with the evangelicals (ooh, there’s the ‘E’ word again..sorry…), they talk about the need for sweeping change, they talk about tossing out truth (smells like unbelief to me!) and about moving along with the culture so we don’t ‘lose’ any of the youth. (We ARE losing them…to this post-modern heresy.) But instead of moving with the culture, they are smack dab in the middle of it and seeming to love it. They talk about making Christianity something tailored to the seeker, but gee, since when does a seeker know what they really need, spiritually speaking? They can’t possibly know, the church exists to TELL them. If they don’t want to hear it, does that automatically indicate that the message is flawed? Of course not, it is the hearer that is flawed and blinded by sin. If the message is changed to accommodate the sinner, then it was no message at all, at least none worth passing along. I have been walking with Jesus for a long time now, and if the message I have given my whole being to is wrong, then why bother? But it is NOT. And so I sit here with my small and probably relatively insignificant attempt to counter the subtle and lying lure of Laodicea. But we have to keep at it, continually upgrading to a higher watt bulb because gee, it’s getting really dark out there.
But wait, you say the seeker movement’s expiration date is past, is it? What now? Why, it’s spirituality “on demand”! Get some candles, a mystical multimedia show and ‘assume the position’. The chanting, the meditating, the prayer-walking – this New Age re-run is meant to bring God down to man. Instead of seeking, studying the Word, being sensitive to His correction and conviction and tarrying in prayer, this new/old fangled faith (called ‘vintage’ – but Solomon said there really is nothing “new” under the sun) promises interaction with God on demand. On our time, with our rules and formulas, no leadership needed.
And since that ‘old school’ Christianity is so all-fired old-fashioned, with that comes the attitude that we are hopelessly out of style (I remember when we set the style for nearly everything), and so here come the newly-enlightened who know it all and – you guessed it – are letting us know it. The influence of the emerging church is everywhere, from a lack of respect and honor for those who ‘keep watch over your souls’ to a do-whats-right-in-your-own-eyes brand of worship because we dare not be definitive, narrow, or-heaven forbid – dogmatic. About anything.
Let’s be honest. This is NOT about how to do church. It’s not about tossing out that ‘old-time religion’ for something more ‘hip’. It is more insidious than that. It has more to do with truth than you may want to believe. It’s about heretics taking an opportunity to cause confusion, to suck the undiscerning dry, and raise up a following for themselves among the most impressionable among us. In this era of amazing spiritual activity, I would implore you to measure everything by the Word of God and test the spirits. Do not bring God down to man’s level, but rather sanctify your hearts, die daily, bring every thought captive to Christ.
Or to put it into today’s jargon:
– get a good firewall protection program
– filter and sort, and defrag your files.
– Delete anything that is slowing you down.
– It’s not too late to re-boot.
– If your system locks up, go to the Owner’s Manual, it has all the answers.
That way when things crash and burn, you have everything backed up somewhere else and won’t suffer loss.
Preach it, Sister!! Love the articles! Keep up the good work.
Have you ever read “The New World Religion” by Gary H Kah? It sums up where MUCH of this “relative truth” and the humanistic selfish attitudes came from over the years, and where it is headed. It was written in 1998, but still takes you back to the roots of many of the attitudes plaguing much of the world today.
It makes me a little upset as I read it, and see how SO MANY are hoodwinked. But, God did say “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth…”(2 Timothy 4:3-4). That is when God takes my anger and reminds me to do what I can for those around me before they too are tricked. I have gratitude that I am not being deceived, and because of that, I am able to teach my children what to watch out for, and THAT makes me very happy! All praise to our wonderful sovereign Lord!