Let’s Show Some Backbone Here

Hate to say it, but some of the most wussy people I know are Christians: the slightest thing can set them off, send them running, or cause them to make a stink. Where are believers with backbone, with courage, with determination? Why do we have such an effeminate church today?

I suppose entire books could be written on this. Part of the reason would be the wholesale acceptance of dopey ideas into the church – ideas which have nothing to do with biblical Christianity, but everything to do with namby-pamby secular humanism.

All the baloney about tolerance and acceptance is a big part of this – you know, the idea that we should just accept everything, every idea, every lifestyle, every ideology, every worldview, and every activity that is out there, all in the name of somehow being more Christlike.

Yeah right – you mean like when he deliberately fashioned a whip and used it as he overturned tables in a holy rage; or when he rebuked Peter to the face and called him Satan; or when he pronounced woe after woe on the Pharisees? There was nothing effeminate, wussy or mousey about Jesus.

And when he comes back to kick butt big time he will scare the living daylights out of everyone who encounters him. People will be terrified of him and his wrath, and will seek to hide in caves. Don’t believe me? Try reading your Bibles again – or if need be, for the very first time.

Begin with Revelation 6:15-17: “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’”

Yet so many believers seem like wimpy church mice. Sure, many of us are tired, many of us are weary, and many of us are ready to go to our heavenly home and our eternal rest. But hey, there is a job to be done – there is plenty of work left to do. As Yahweh told Joshua, “there remains yet very much land to be possessed” (Josh 13:1).

Now is not the time to give up. Now is not the time to go on and on, whining and complaining. Now is not the time to wuss out. If anyone had a reason to do all this, it would be Jeremiah. Talk about somebody who went through the wars. Talk about someone who was bruised, bloody, and battle-weary.

Consider one of his famous “confessions” where he lets it all hang out before God. Remember this famous reply to one of these? “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jer. 12:5)

I guess a bit of background context is in order here. In Jer 11:18-23 we read of a nasty plot to take Jeremiah’s life. In the first four verses of ch 12 Jeremiah makes a lament or complaint to God. Many of the usual beefs come up here, such as “why do the wicked prosper?” They are certainly valid questions for him to raise, especially given all that he had been through.

The rest of chapter 12 contains God’s reply. Verse five is the first part of his response, and it is a classic word of not-so-gentle rebuke and admonition. The prophet’s lot is not an easy one, and many more difficult days ahead will come. So ‘stop the whining, gird up your loins, and get on with the job,’ is in effect what Yahweh tells Jeremiah.

As Mackay puts it, “God does not explain the workings of his providence; nor does he seek to cheer up the prophet by pointing to some set of good times to come. Instead his words are brusque and challenging. This perhaps permits us to gauge how Jeremiah’s complaint ought to be read in this context. He has been speaking in a voice of self-pity at the hardship he has sustained and the trials he is having to undergo in the discharge of his divine commission. The Lord is warning him that he has not yet experienced anything very much at all.”

Or as J. Andrew Dearman comments, God’s reply “is less an answer and more a somber indication that to run the race of prophetic office before him, Jeremiah will be stretched more than he can yet imagine, So he must be prepared. This is also a word about the life of discipleship, about the process of refinement and growth in grace, and about trust in God in spite of difficult circumstances.”

As one quite minor illustration of all this, at times I get some believer complaining about things like: “Oh, you write too many articles” or “You post too many things” or “You send out too many emails”. Yikes. The first thing I feel like telling these folks is, “There is such a thing as a delete button you know if it is all too much for you!”

Then I feel like saying, “Hey, no one is holding a gun to your head here”. And the third thing I always feel like reminding them of is Jer 12:5. Of course I never say these things, but wow, if a few lousy emails or articles wear you out, then what in the world are you going to do when things really start to hot up?

Yes I write a lot of articles, but that is because there is a lot to write about. Sure, no one need read anything I write if they don’t want to. But the truth is, there is a war going on, and when important things are occurring, we need to be aware of them, and we need to be involved. But some wussy believers get exhausted by a few items in their inbox, or a few posts on a social media site.

We should enjoy and use these things while we can – we may well not have such freedoms for all that long. Not everyone is called to use these tools we now have, but we should not take them for granted. Clampdowns on the Internet, on email, on social media sites may all well occur in the not too distant future. Either use them now for Christ and the Kingdom, or be ready to lose it all one day.

Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and think, ‘Wow, the world is heading down the tubes fast. Freedoms are being lost, babies are being killed, marriage and family is being hammered, nations are collapsing, Christ’s name is being dragged in the mud, millions are perishing and heading to a lost eternity, and all some believers can do is whine about getting too many emails. Go figure.’

If you can’t run with the men on foot, or a few emails a day, what are you going to do when things really get tough? Sure it takes time to read emails, or articles, or become informed about the issues that really matter, or to write letters to the editor, or contact MPs, etc. And yes, that will take time away from playing Facebook games, watching Top Gear, and doing Sudoku puzzles.

But it ultimately comes down to priorities. What is really important? Are we aware that there is a spiritual battle taking place all around us, and God is looking to raise up an army of warriors to fight the good fight? Or is it all just too much for us, and so we go back to our little selfish, self-absorbed lifestyle?

I guess I must be getting old. I know I won’t be around much longer. And I know I have wasted so many years in trivial pursuits and things that do not mean a hill of beans. I am tired of playing games and wasting time. I want my life to count for something.

And there is a lot to be done. To get the job done will take real men, not wusses. The stakes are too great, the price is too high, and the opposition is too fierce for anything less. We need those who can run with the horses. As A W Tozer put it:

“Yes, if evangelical Christianity is to stay alive she must have men again, the right kind of men. She must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and she must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff prophets and martyrs are made of.”

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