Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is- Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV
Thankfully the whole Covid-19 mess is, for all intents and purposes, over.
Between vaccines, therapeutics, a rebirth of common-sense and folks finally putting their collective foot down, for the first time in a long time a mindless virus is no longer running the show.
That does not mean life is all snow cones and roses.
The economy is a flaming-hot mess. Thanks to punch-drunk government spending post-covid, inflation is out of control and a nasty recession appears to be hovering over the horizon. Leaders all over the world are openly testing the waters of authoritarianism. These realities do not bode well for the future. Further complicating the whole messy mess, morally we have officially hit the skids. People are stupid with sin. Common sense has vanished into thin air. Our culture is so utterly silly college educated people can no longer tell the difference between boys and girls. Literally anything goes and God help the individual dumb enough to say some behavior, lifestyle choice or manner of identifying is wrong or potentially harmful. A harsh and hasty canceling awaits them.
So, what is a Christian to do? There are no easy answers to that question. What the church has been doing clearly isn’t working. The culture is devolving rapidly and the church is shrinking just as rapidly. Most church growth in recent years has not been conversion growth. Some churches are growing because already saved people are going from church to church desperately searching for something healthy and life-giving. The church has been shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic for decades. This has to stop. Churches have to grow again. The church is called to be a preserving and healing presence in the culture, we can’t do that if we aren’t fulfilling the call to make disciples (Matthew 29:18-20). In order to get back to that calling some collective self-examination is needed. As Christians, we are called to transform the culture by living such good lives that we reveal truth and call the people around us to repentance with our actions and attitudes (1st Peter 2:12).
To accomplish that end leaders must lead well.
Alas, many Christian leaders have fallen into the trap of believing there is something innately special about them and that’s the reason they’re church leaders. Truth-be-told it is a leader’s obedience and willingness to serve that makes them useful to the Kingdom of God. If a leader stops being obedient or stops seeing themselves as a servant of Jesus, that leader instantly becomes worthless to the Lord (1st Samuel 13:1-14, 1st Samuel 15:22, Psalm 128:1). Seriously. In these topsy-turvy times it is imperative leaders remember they are only as special as they are obedient. Leaders cannot use any perceived specialness they have as an excuse to hurt people or skirt the rules. Neither is it okay to use Jesus as a vehicle to build their own kingdom. That kind of behavior is crushing the churches effectiveness.
Christians must think clearly, wisely and most importantly of all: biblically.
In order to do that we must exercise some common sense about what we put into our minds because what we think about determines how we see the world (Philippians 4:8). We must let go of the ridiculous fantasy that popular culture is harmless for anyone. It’s not and it never has been. Popular culture is meant to distract us from real life and it makes us morally dumb. It’s simply a fact that no one has become more godly or wise watching Game of Thrones, The Office, Disney-plus or any other popular drivel that promotes the very stuff Jesus died to save us from. If you have any doubt about what I’m saying test it: stop watching television for ninety days, replace television watching with something live giving: Bible reading, Christian music, gardening, board games or playing with your kids. I guarantee after three months of not watching garbage you will see what you do watch from a completely different perspective.
Christians must behave in a way that is loving towards those outside the faith (Colossians 4:5). No one has ever been won over to team Jesus with meanness or judgment. That being said, we have to stop using “love” as an excuse to pander to the culture and keep quiet on matters of right and wrong. Ultimately, moral issues are not matters of personal taste. They are matters of life and death. Christians do no one any favors by keeping quiet or pretending we agree on issues of homosexuality, gender, heterosexual sexual sin, pornography and the child grooming that has become commonplace by transgender activists in public schools. Nor is it acceptable for Christians to use grace (God’s forgiveness) as an excuse for ungodly, unwise or unruly living. “Love” that does not speak truth is functionally hate.
Christianity is ultimately about calling—not so much the individual calling most Western Christians associate with calling. The calling I’m talking about is the corporate calling we all have to be holy (Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 5:3) and live lives centered around the good of others (Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2:13). If we refuse to embrace that calling we miss the whole point of Christianity and become powerless to help a dying culture find their way to Jesus.