CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Christian Concern: Missing In Action

Jul 22, 2017

I wish to speak to the issue of Christian concern and involvement in vitally important issues of the day. I would like to assess just how willing Christians are to stand up and be counted. I want to examine how many might actually do something about the things that matter.

I refer especially to the culture wars, and the many battle fronts that are out there which Christians should be concerned about and engaged in. This of course has been a big part of my calling, and I have spent a number of decades involved in all of this.

While I certainly do not expect other believers to become full time lobbyists, activists, or culture warriors, I do expect those who love the Lord Jesus Christ to care deeply about some of these issues, and at least to some extent get involved in doing something about them.

The issues are many of course, from the war on the marriage and family, to the attack on life, to the persecution of Christians. Dozens of other crucial issues could be mentioned here. And there would be various ways that believers can get involved, whether simply being prayer warriors or doing some of the other practical things.

apathy 8And these would be numerous: writing letters to editors, getting on talk back radio, sharing your concerns with friends, family or neighbours, contacting politicians, using the social media to share truth, joining a pro-life group or becoming a member of a pro-family organisation, and so on.

There is plenty that we can do. Yet I find that most Christians seem to be doing nothing at all. So I have to ask myself why this is. Do they care about these things, or are they really just apathetic and indifferent? If they do care, do they feel unqualified to do anything?

Are they waiting for some instruction on how they can get involved? Are they afraid that if they open their mouths, other folks will take offence or condemn them? So is it the fear of man or cowardice then? There would likely be many reasons why most Christians seem to do nothing about these really important issues of the day.

Here is my take on this. Of course I am not a social scientist, I do not have a team of paid professionals to assist me here, and I make no claims to any sort of empirical certitude. But from my vantage point, I think the breakdown would go something like this. If we had a 100 Western Christians:

-something like 85 would not know or care about any of this stuff;
-of the 15 who did care, perhaps half of them might at least pray about some of these matters;
-of the 15 who did care, maybe just 1 or 2 will actually do something about it.

Now that is as unscientific as you can get. It is simply based on my own experiences over many years. The actual figures could well be a bit off, but the exact numbers are not so important here. What is important is this general truth: most Christians in the West really do not seem to give a rip about what is going on around them.

So the next step here is to ask why these things are so. As to why the small percentage of Christians who do care are not really doing anything about it, I already mentioned a few possibilities above. And if folks simply do not know what to do or where to start, I have written a number of articles offering some practical pointers on this:

billmuehlenberg.com/2010/09/21/practical-tips-on-making-a-difference-part-one/
billmuehlenberg.com/2010/09/21/practical-tips-on-making-a-difference-part-two/
billmuehlenberg.com/2009/02/02/what-can-we-do/
billmuehlenberg.com/2010/09/19/but-what-can-i-do/
billmuehlenberg.com/2013/01/30/the-overwhelming-power-of-one/

As to those who care but are too fearful of speaking out, and worry about what others might say, it seems the answer is fairly straightforward. They need to repent and ask God for some Holy Ghost boldness. We are not meant to be wimpy church mice but roaring lions for Jesus Christ.

We should fear God alone and not fear man. And if you think being cowardly is no big deal, in the light of Scripture I ask you to reconsider. Scripture actually tells us that the cowardly will be the first to be judged by God. See these pieces for example:

billmuehlenberg.com/2011/08/20/wanted-men-and-women-of-courage/
billmuehlenberg.com/2013/08/21/the-sin-of-remaining-silent-and-doing-nothing/

As to the roughly 85 per cent of believers who just do not seem to know or care at all about these most pressing of issues – be it the slaughter of the unborn, the frenzied assaults on faith and family by the militant homosexual and transgender activists, or the torture and killing of so many of our brothers and sisters overseas – a few things can be said.

Those who really do not know – as hard as that may be to believe – really are without excuse here. We now live in the internet age, where information – and reams of it – is freely available everywhere. One would almost have to deliberately go out of one’s way to avoid knowing about the key issues of the day.

If these uninformed believers really know nothing about the abortion wars, about the worldwide persecution of Christians, of the daily assaults on religious liberty and the like, they really only have themselves to blame. There is just no excuse for such woeful ignorance.

As to those who do know, but still do not care – well, they are in an even worse boat. They are in a very precarious position indeed. The answer is again rather straightforward for these sorts of Christians: repentance is the order of the day.

We need to repent of our apathy, of our hardened hearts, of our carnality, and our compromise. We need to get on our faces before Almighty God and repent and ask him to make us into the warriors for Christ that we are supposed to be. But the first step must be to recognise that something is clearly wrong, and move away from that in faith and repentance.

Now I am not just trying to pick on folks. I am speaking to myself here as well. Believe it or not, the truth is, I hate controversy and I much prefer to live a quiet and peaceful life with no battles and no dramas. I would so much prefer to just sit at home and read a book.

I too can be fearful and uncomfortable about life in the trenches. I do not at all relish all these controversies, wars and battles. And of course all the hate mail and abuse that I get on a regular basis is certainly not something that I welcome and enjoy. It hurts like hell, and I wish it would just all go away.

But these issues are far too important to try to bow out of. Some things are just too important to hope that someone else might do something about it. As someone once put it, “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”

Regardless of the cost we must get involved. We really have no excuses here. We either ask God to break our hearts over what breaks his, and then get involved, or we admit that we are just faux Christians. If we are the real deal we will care about the things God cares about, and we will get involved no matter how painful or unpleasant.

But if we couldn’t care less, then chances are real good that we are NOT in fact genuine disciples of Jesus Christ. We are just kidding ourselves in that case. No one should want to be in that place. I think these words of Christ may be quite relevant here, even if he did not have in mind Christian involvement in the culture wars:

“Whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

[1309 words]

20 Responses to Christian Concern: Missing In Action

  • Bill, Thank you one again for this brilliant article, your passion and concern for Christians is very obvious. I like you, also like a quiet life with no confrontations or controversy and have been quiet for a long time. The Lord has challenged me to rise up in these perilous times and do whatever I can. There is too much at stake. You have presented it beautifully in your article for Christians to stand up and be counted. If indeed we are true disciples, then we must!
    No offering is too small and “where the brethren dwell in unity, there the Lord commands a Blessing” Psalm 133:1. We are a powerful force united!

  • Most Christians rely on direction and advice from their local church leaders. They will involve themselves in what their leaders encourage them to be involved in with great enthusiasm, commitment and even personal cost. This is to be expected – sheep follow their shepherds, whatever their quality or priorities. As frustrating as it can be, Bill, you are not their shepherd, so unless the shepherds are responding, generally the status quo is retained.

  • Thanks Warren. When these Christians stand before their Lord one day they will have nothing to say and will hang their heads in shame, when asked: “Where in My Word did I say you should only care, only act, only be salt and light if and when your pastor says so?” They sure don’t need me as a shepherd to start caring about things and start acting as Christ would have us to act! They stand condemned according to the Word of God – and so do their pastors if they are not speaking out.

  • Thanks Bill, another great article. And can I say that you shepherd me regularly with the truth you preach. After all, the body of Christ has many parts, and where people in formal roles fail, God raises up others to care for His flock.

  • Spreading the WORD…
    Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
    Sometimes the shepherds are not feeding the sheep. I find that giving a person a bible is very rewarding (you can purchase a small bible for $5-$6) give them to the needy the sick and the poor, forget about the “rich & famous” they have their reward. I never cease to be surprised at how many of our brothers & sisters do not even own a bible, and the “pastors” are only feeding them that which is acceptable to the “world”, preaching them “another gospel” (Galatians 1: 6-10).
    Please make a start somewhere, do something!
    GOD be with you.

  • Hi Bill. I grieve over these things. In my rural city of around 40,000 people, my husband & I have been basically pleading with people to join us to pray for our Nation. Three years ago we started a prayer meeting for this purpose. After two years of praying weekly only six regulars would meet to pray, out of a church of over 300. We had hardly any support or encouragement from our pastors. No pastors ever joined us, and only a couple out of our dozen elders came, and that was only very occasionally.
    This year we let all the other churches in town know about it, advertised widely, inviting them to unite with us, and now we have a group of 10 to 15 from 6 denominations meeting weekly, praying for the Church, our city and our Nation. It’s wonderful, passionate prayer, and so good to pray together for marriage, babies, life, ACL, politicial issues, etc, but how our hearts bleed to look at the rest of the church and wonder why they don’t seem to care.

  • Thanks Diane. Yes, sadly your story could be multiplied many times over all throughout the West. This is why we keep losing – hardly anyone cares any more, even just to pray. As such, we are ripe for God’s judgment.

  • Dear Bill,
    I share your frustration and agree largely with your analysis though I am not anywhere nearly in the public eye as you are and therefore I get nowhere near the flack that you get, Ignorance is the main problem, I think, and this is not because there is not enough opportunity to know but because people generally do not want to know, apathy I suppose. Most people live in their own little cocoon, such as their family, their friends, their church or club, their business, etc. When I open my mouth I get or feel “There is Joost again on his soap-box”. I think the situation has to become much, much worse to the point of it being no longer possible to ignore, before most people become concerned.
    I lived through the 5 year of German occupation in Holland. At first it was not too bad but gradually it became beyond ignoring it such as all Jews disappearing, compulsory working in Germany in the ammunition factories, 8.00 pm curfews, always to be careful as to what you say, less and less to eat, all shops empty, no more electricity or gas or petroleum and occasionally hostages being publicly executed. Nobody could ignore the situation anymore, but few could do anything about it but join a resistance cell, with the risk to be found out and shot. May be we are heading for some similar situation or perhaps something even much worse with Syria and Iraq or the Soviets as the model. Civil war in Europe is not unthinkable. And lo and behold, the churches were full in those occupation days. May we turn and cling to God and his Kingdom without these pressures and work for Him while it is still day.

  • I think Margaret’s comment about unity is particularly important. It seems that many people are making a stand but the unity is lacking; in Britain, our enemies are very “together” and seem to act as one body, while the energies of the righteous are thin and rather scattered, unfocused. Getting them together and pinpointed like a laser is what we need to do, but we don’t seem to have got it quite right yet.

  • Some protestant pastors, translate ‘make disciples of all nations’ into, make’ passive and infantile congregations’. Other pastors have major ‘Boss Cockie’ syndromes, where the lucky sheep get to hear them pontificate endlessly, about nice safe christian issues. Rarely are dangerous and pertinent subjects, eg. islam, abortion, homo marriage, false shepherds, etc. given pulpit time, even the persecuted Church gets neglected. I think as Joost mentions, things will have to get much worse before things turn around. Thank you Bill, for being a great Cyber pastor, you should be promoted to Cyber Archbishop or even Cyber Pope!

  • Thanks Gerald. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 – “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

  • One opportunity to take some action.
    The fight to try to save Charlie Gard’s life has just entered its final phase, his fate will be decided in the next few days:
    http://www.citizengo.org/en-us/node/71800

  • Thanks Mark. Yes there are so many issues to get involved in, and so many quick and easy things we can do, such as sign a petition or share something on the social media. There really are no excuses here for all of us to take at least some action.

  • Spot on Bill. No one wants to get involved. Everyone uses the excuse, and that’s just what it is, “it’s my job to love”, without even knowing what that means in my opinion. Anyone who dare go against that mantra is automatically labeled a bigot, homophobic, hateful, etc. We are confronting that daily in The Salvation Army as I’m sure you’re aware. A group of us (Soldiers, Officers) have come together recently and formed a group called Sentry-Salvationists Fighting For Sanctity (of Scripture, Life, & Family). There are already many that are upset with us within The Salvation Army as we are taking a Biblical stand on these issues. There are bold people trying to tear down and infiltrate The Salvation Army with a myriad of false teachings from Univeralism to same-sex marriage to the inspiration of God’s Word. We’ve said no more. Enough is enough. We will confront false teaching in The Salvation Army wherever we find it. Unfortunately we see, to be finding a lot of it and those who are behind it are very bold. We are having notice taken of us very quickly. Keep us in prayer as we intend to stand strong for the faith.

  • Well done Jesse and Co. Keep standing strong and God bless you richly!

  • I wonder if you really should title the blog ‘Christian Concern – missing the truth’. What you say Bill is obviously true, based on your experience, that the large majority in the church are timid and reluctant to speak up and be active in their walk and faith. So behind the inaction is the concern of what is in their hearts. Is it the desire to live and proclaim God’s truth? Are their hearts so captured that the life lived and the Christian community (church) shines out within the culture? Both the world and Christians acknowledge that in every issue the popular culture diverges from the way God would have us live. We need to talk about the difference, engage the culture. And I think it is helpful for your insights – watching the culture like a watchman on the Jerusalem wall, telling the inhabitants – us, ‘your under attack’. That is very helpful. More than that. It seems you have a dual role. One of decrying the sick post-modern culture attacking the church and perhaps the other is calling the Church to be true to what Christ called us to be. On the second matter it is really the leadership that needs to work at doing what is necessary to reveal the inadequacy of the culture. I know a little about sheep and they will tend to stay together and can be timid. So 85% or so (the large majority) are being generally consistent from your observations. If the leadership was to take more decisive action as to how a church or churches should respond to some issues perhaps there needs to be a deliberate move to look at how the church as a body can engage the culture and show an alternative way of life and values. We are to be like light – a city on a hill that shines and dispels darkness. Perhaps the people need the leaders to lead, teach and engage the public in a grace filled way. Would we all be provoked in our spirits by the idols today just like Paul from Acts 17 – hanging around the public places in Athens upset by the cultural and religious idols? We need leaders who help the church to be an alternative city and culture within the culture today. So the ‘missing in action’ is a symptom of ‘missing the truth’ of being a light that shines to bring glory to God especially in the corporate way. To me the key is to hold firmly to applying the gospel that reshapes hearts and transforms and will subvert the dark powers around in our society.

  • Oh Bill, God bless you!

    Once again you nail it. Thank you.

    I look forward to reading your articles and find them extremely helpful. I do not usually comment but I feel I must here. So thankful to our Heavenly Father for you!

    I get extremely tired of writing to politicians, letters to editor(s) etc. but I do it anyway. It is so encouraging to read this one and also the comments of your readers, sometimes we can feel like we are alone. My husband and I left our “quiet peaceable life,” rented out our little cottage on the river in Tasmania and moved to Canberra. (I am now very involved with Canberra House of Prayer to the nations (C-Hop) and intercession at a governmental level). Where I am not “qualified” I know can still speak TRUTH or come alongside others who are on the front line in support (practically) and in prayer.

    Sincerely thank you for your faithfulness, and obedience, and service Bill. Continuing to pray for you everyday!

  • Many thanks indeed Samantha. Bless you and keep standing strong.

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