How Do We Respond?
By Jonathan C. Brentner
If you are like me, you find it difficult to maintain your sanity as you watch the growing apostasy in the church and look on as the world descends deeper into wickedness and violence seemingly every day.
One morning this week I read the story in Luke 9:51-56 about a Samaritan village that would not accept the presence of Jesus. In response to the city’s rejection of Jesus, James and John said “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” There are days, I confess, when I have sentiments that are far too similar to these two disciples than not.
Jesus, of course, rebuked the two for their desire to wipe out the Samaritan village.
But how do we respond to our world in a way that leaves everything in the hands of our Lord? Below, I list three areas that I believe challenge us the most in this regard:
When We Encounter the Wickedness of the World
Like it or not, the only way to live avoid the growing wickedness of our day is to live in a remote cabin deep in the mountains with no internet or cell phone connection. However, most days I have no inclination for such a life (I would likely starve to death).
I shudder when I read about the horrors of sex trafficking or the cruelty inflicted on the most innocent among us by abortionists who murder thousands of children each day. The ongoing advances of the LBGQT agenda also horrify me when I consider all the precious lives it devours. We live in a day when celebrities boast of worshipping Satan and some credit him with their success.
What do we do when we find it difficult to deal with the wickedness that confronts us every day? I have found a few things that help me to deal cope:
1. First, I recognize that Jesus sees what I see and much, much more. His anger at the evil and violence around us exceeds our own, of this I am sure.
2. As such, I know a day is coming when the Lord will say “enough is enough” and the judgments of the tribulation will fall upon an unsuspecting world. Psalm 37 assures us that while evil people may prosper for a while, they will not escape God’s wrath unless they repent.
3. And most importantly, I realize I must resist becoming arrogant because I know the truth of God’s Word, which is what my pastor recently emphasized. It’s so easy for me to forget I am a sinner saved by grace. Apart from the Lord’s saving grace, my sins are enough to condemn me to everlasting punishment just as with any other sinner. Everyone needs the Savior, no exceptions!
When Fellow Believers Mock Our Hope in Jesus’ Appearing
One particularly difficult challenge for me lately comes from fellow believers who scoff at my hope in Jesus’ imminent appearing and in a literal millennium. What do we do when others laugh at our beliefs in these things or give us a condescending smile as we express our hope? I have experienced both these things in the past several weeks as well as fierce opposition on Facebook in this regard.
While I am not tempted to call fire down on these fellow saints, their refusal to take the words of the Old Testament prophets literally frustrates me. I am more than a little disheartened when I hear a pastor say that Revelation 20:1-10 is nothing more than allegory or that the New Jerusalem symbolically represents God’s presence and is not a real, physical city.
I recently found much encouragement in this regard from Psalm 57:2, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Do you see how this takes the pressure off me? My part is to remain faithful to my calling, that of defending the future tense the Gospel and demonstrating the biblical basis for our biblical hope. God’s part is to do what He pleases with what I offer Him and to accomplish His purposes with my life.
Fellow believers who are like-minded are also essential when we need encouragement against the angst of those who mock our hope. Earlier this week, a long telephone call with my friend Andy back in Iowa greatly refreshed my spirit and helped restore my spiritual equilibrium.
When Others Proclaim False Belief about Jesus
Lastly, how do we respond to beliefs about Jesus that blatantly contradict God’s Word? This can be just as challenging as the above items and perhaps more so if it’s a dear family member.
It grieves my heart when I hear someone proclaim that Jesus died merely as an example or that He is one of many paths to salvation.
It’s also irritating to hear Jesus’ name used as approving of behavior that Scripture clearly tells us is sinful. As an example, the singer Madonna recently stated that Jesus approves of abortion. While we might find her statement utterly ridiculous, it’s sure to influence many.
When we hear such things, it helps to know that this is not anything new. Almost three thousand years ago God complained of the exact same thing in Psalm 57:16-21.This has long been a ploy of our adversary.
The Lord’s warning in Psalm 57 also challenges us who know the truth of God’s Word. Do we accurately reflect the truth of Scripture in what we proclaim to others? Do we proclaim biblical truths that differ from the way we live? It’s so easy for me to point the finger at someone else when I read Psalm 57:16-21 and not consider my own behavior.
Of course it’s not wrong to feel anger as we see lives destroyed by wicked people or hear others say Jesus would approve of the destruction of human life. Something would be amiss if these things did not stir our hearts. Neither should we apologize for feeling deep frustration when others mock our hope in Jesus’ soon return or when we hear of professing Christians who deny key elements of the Gospel.
The desire to call down fire and brimstone on them, however, is perhaps takes things a bit too far.
Instead, we must take our indignation to the Lord as did the prophet Habakkuk long ago and after that wait upon Him for the answer. The Lord answered to the prophet’s complaint by telling him He indeed saw the violence and injustice rampant in ancient Judah and His response to it was already on the way (Hab. 1).
The Lord later assured Habakkuk that His justice would surely prevail, but he needed to patiently wait for it (Hab. 2).
In His own good time Jesus will make all things right in the world, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14). The Lord’s righteousness and justice will someday prevail over every square inch of soil.
So we wait. We wait until the Father deems it’s the right time to intervene in our world by sending His Son to take us home and beginning the time of judgment known as Scripture as the “day of the Lord” or the tribulation.
Though the wait seems painfully long at times, we trust the Lord’s timing and remember that the world needs our Savior just as we need Him.