If a warning is given about some impending tragedy, disaster or conflict, and those warnings go unheeded, there is a double evil: the evil which occurs, and the evil of not heeding the warnings. It is one thing for tragedy to occur; it is another thing for it to occur needlessly.
It seems one very recent example of this concerns Qantas. It appears that CEO Alan Joyce had been warning Julia Gillard about this for some time, but she ignored the warnings, and even refused to return phone calls about the crisis. This is a small example of the dangers of ignoring the warning signs.
A much more important case of unheeded warnings involves World War II. A TV documentary last night examined one part of this: the situation in France prior to the war. Those in charge in France were basically way out of their depth: whether politicians or generals or others, they almost all were in large part responsible for the fall of France.
They simply failed to heed the many warnings, would not believe the clear reports about the German offensive, and just wanted to believe it would not happen. They also were living in the past, believing that the tactics of the Great War would suffice for any new war.
They basically had their heads in the sand and refused to face reality. Even worse, many wanted to follow a policy of appeasement and even collaboration with the Germans. They actually thought they could somehow just get along with the German invaders as they overran their nation.
Winston Churchill called WWII the “unnecessary war”. And it really was. Many English leaders were just as bad as the French: they too refused to face reality and heed the many warnings. Indeed, the grand example of naive and dangerous appeasement was found in Chamberlain who vainly sought to achieve “peace in our time”.
When you watch a documentary like this you cannot help but get angry at those inept, out of touch, and idiotic French leaders. They should have been doing all they could to protect France, but they instead became a part of the problem, making the downfall of France possible.
Hindsight of course is always superior to foresight, but still, these leaders should have known better, and we have a right to be angry at their sheer incompetence and bloody-mindedness. After all, if the war was largely preventable, then the lives of millions could have been spared, and the Holocaust need not have happened.
Untold suffering, misery and death might have been prevented, if only those in charge had been doing their jobs, and had properly attended to the many warnings given. But they did not. So in the case of France, the Germans took it over in a mere five weeks (May-June 1940), and Europe had to endure five more years of hell as a result.
There are some clear lessons in all this for us today. There are plenty of battles raging today, many of them cultural or social, as opposed to military, but the costs of such warfare can be just as great. The culture wars of today are causing plenty of havoc, misery and destruction.
But the tragic thing is, while people have given warnings about these battles, so few seem to listen. As far as the church goes, most Christian leaders have no clue that these wars are going on, and they refuse to heed any of the warnings about them.
At bottom of course are spiritual powers of darkness, seeking to wreak death and destruction everywhere. But these spiritual battles are manifest in very real ways here on earth. So much of the social, cultural, moral and religious upheavals of our time have as their basis the warfare taking place in the heavenlies.
Consider the various radical social activist groups which have declared war on faith and family. Many of these destructive groups have been quite upfront about their intentions. They have clearly told us what they intend to do. Yet most people seem quite clueless as to the war which has been declared against faith and family values.
Or they choose to ignore or not believe the warnings being given. Some of these voices have been sounding the alarm for decades now, yet most Christians either ignore the trumpet blasts, or decide that there really is nothing to be alarmed about.
Or, as in Europe last century, many think they can actually appease the enemy, and somehow cut a deal with them or strike a truce. They think that those who have openly declared that they want to destroy us can somehow be lived with and gotten along with. Such believers are naive in the extreme.
And as we tragically witnessed in German-occupied France, far too many people in fact became collaborators with the occupiers. They actually got into bed with the Nazis, and sold out their own countrymen. Far too many Christians are doing exactly that today in the culture wars and other battles we find ourselves in.
Instead of standing up against these activist groups and their secular-left agenda, many Christians are in fact siding with them, and bringing them into their churches. They think “peace at any price” is the way to go. They look at any form of conflict as somehow “unChristlike” and think appeasement is their Christian duty.
How many Christian churches have effectually capitulated and gone over to the other side? How many have sold their souls for worldly approval and the praise of men? How many have abandoned the gospel and embraced the wisdom of this world, just to be liked and to get along?
These leaders will one day stand before their Lord and give an account of their treasonous activities, and of all those under them that have been harmed as a result. Just as any remaining French leaders after the war should have faced the music for their negligence and incompetence, so too Christian leaders must face the music for their betrayal of their Lord and the gospel.
In the meantime, we need to keep praying that bold and godly prophets will arise and send clear messages of warning. Too many Christian leaders who are meant to be watchmen on the wall and prophetic voices are not sounding the alarm.
Indeed, as Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 14:8, “If the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” We need clear clarion calls today, made by those who do not fear man but only God. Sure, such prophetic voices will always be rejected and opposed, but the duty to sound the alarm remains.
As Ezekiel so clearly warned, the blood will be on our hands if we know of danger ahead but refuse to give the alarm (Ez 3:16-21; 33:1-20). I for one do not want that blood to be on my hands. I will continue to speak out even if everyone laughs at me, mocks me, and spurns me.
I do not want future generations to look back at me – and Christian leaders – and say, “Why in the world did they not warn God’s people? How could they have ignored all the warning signs? How could they have remained silent in the face of so much impending danger and doom? How could they have been so negligent in their duty?”
I got quite angry at those helpless, hopeless French leaders who should have done so much better. They could have kept France free, and they could have prevented much of WWII. Anyone watching that documentary should have felt the same sense of anger and frustration.
We dare not repeat their mistakes, so that future generations of believers look back at us in anger and frustration, amazed that we did not see the dangers, make the warnings, and fight the fight. In so many ways, the church is on the verge of collapse all over the Western world, and so very few can see the dangers or can sound the alarm.
I for one will not allow the collapse of the church to take place on my watch. I hope you will join with me in being that much-needed watchman on the wall.