“These that have turned the world upside down.” The Apostles didn’t turn just any world upside down, but the world of the Greeks and Romans: the Classic world of human intellect, wisdom, political power; an unmatched world of art and architecture. It was also a world of darkness, corruption and immoral behavior.
So, what of today’s world? Is it possible that once again the preaching of Christ could have a sweeping spiritual influence on the souls of nations? Or do we conclude that the bad is so bad, the grip of criminals so locked, that it cannot be overcome? Is that the analysis? And therefore, is the ugly final solution to ignore the problem?
There are certain neighborhoods referred to in Indianapolis as the “killing zone.” This area is defined as such due to the unspeakable number of murders and violent acts that take place there. It is a part of the city that was once filled with thriving businesses, clean streets, public parks and beautiful churches, including my father and mother’s little gospel chapel. Today it looks like the bombed city of Dresden during World War II. It resembles a miniature Detroit. Driving through this area recently, I felt great despair. I wondered if it is possible to overcome and conquer the darkness and fear that has gripped the families living in that part of town. I’ve sat on several committees with sociologists, business leaders, congresspersons, mayors, police, university professors, psychologists and pastors. I have yet to hear a real solution discussed that brought any assurances to the room. The most common response of such committees is to throw money into backing this or that idea, a new gym, a new center for the children or free lunches. After putting forth these suggestions, the best and the brightest entertain a motion to adjourn and handshake their way out of the meeting, return to their limousines and head for the airport.
Is wickedness, sin and crime irreversible? Do we merely let it run its course? Many good people I know are trying hard to find a solution. They are spending lots of money and investing in every conceivable method. They enjoy some successes, but they are not turning the tide. And many social programs are being reexamined, because the interests, values and beliefs (political, social and spiritual) of the so-called helpers are themselves part of the problem. As an example, I have been on committees where the homosexual agenda conflicts with the Christians’ beliefs, and therefore what they each bring to the table as solutions are totally different; and because of political correctness the discussions stalemate. Or if a discussion comes up about the influence of violence displayed in movies, television, music or vulgar presentations on stages (such as the recent conduct of Ms. Cyrus on national television), no one addresses the matter because they “don’t really believe it matters all that much.” Such politically correct responses ignore or block the solutions. And the kids continue to kill one another, and neighborhoods cry and die.
In other words, when society responds to evil in ways that are passive, guarded, uncertain and lacking nerve then this becomes part of the problem.
The same, in certain cases, might be said of the church’s responses to the nation’s sins. I’m speaking about our church. About us as Apostolics. Careful analysis is needed. Our real core beliefs, those everyday beliefs we live by … what are they? Do our personal agendas put us in conflict with one another? Should we rise from the table, shake hands, agree to disagree, and walk away conceding the future to darkness?
Do we really believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is essential, evidenced by speaking in tongues? If we do not, then it is likely that we will not see that as a solution to the spiritual condition of our world, or as the anointing and power essential to evangelism. Is the holiness lifestyle our own true practiced belief? If not, we certainly will not preach it. What is our spiritual response to the rising tide of political oppression, or the invasion of hell’s filth endlessly sent through our technical devices that we provide to our innocent children? Or what about our response to false religions, false doctrine, and compromising pulpits?
And what about there being almost no response at all concerning the robbers who snatch years of labor and sacrifice from generations of faithful Oneness Apostolic people who built beautiful edifices and blessed and financially supported preachers and their families … only to see it all, by deceit and treachery, placed under the flag of old denominational doctrines wrapped in clever deceptive language, and presented as the new way to reach the modern world? This they do while holiness and the Apostles’ doctrine is mocked. And shockingly, in some cases, by the same people who originally led the same flock in the paths of righteousness. Why does this happen? Could it be because we don’t really believe it matters all that much? Maybe we tolerate the ruse because we believe we’ll be better off when all the holiness people are out of the picture. And then we can really reach the world without all those old bonds upon our necks and in our minds.
I would describe as weak, timid and inappropriate the common response to the deteriorating holiness in our churches. I’m concerned, and I think you should be, about the fearful and anxious attitude many Pentecostals have about broaching the subject of the harmful influences of worldliness upon the spiritual life of our congregations. Failure to do so adds to the problem and contributes to the decline of commitment to the Apostles’ doctrine. When we no longer believe it, we will no longer preach it. And why don’t we believe it? God has not changed. What has changed in us? And where do we end up without it?