By Paul D. Mooney
“When men forget God, some very terrible things happen. Leadership becomes corrupt. Marriages end. Families suffer. Churches split. Communities decay. Eventually, an entire nation crumbles” –Solzhenitsyn.
Solzhenitsyn, the great Russian writer, witnessed the consequences of Godlessness. He observed first hand the horror of societal collapse and its devastating wake. His profound writings trace the horror of Russia’s many revolutions that created some of the modern world’s worst holocausts. He summarized his observations with these words: “When men forget God, some very terrible things happen.”
As Apostolics, most of us hold the conviction that the Gospel has the power to transform the world. We believe that the preached Word of God can permeate and deliver men from sin, despair, anger, and hopelessness. The Apostle Paul, convinced of this fact, wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).
What can the Church do to the world? The Church’s intent is to ‘leaven’ the world. Its very commission is to preach the good news of Jesus – a redemptive message that is boldly premeditated to influence, modify and transform the world. This is what the true Church does. It redeems. It transforms. However, the world does not receive this kindly.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Because the Church seeks to change the world, the two entities are set in opposition to one another. The battle is being fought. So the question we must seriously ponder is this: “What can the world do to the Church?” I believe the world is attempting to neutralize the influence and reach of the Church by hijacking its time, passion and values. We know that the world will NOT stop the Church’s ultimate victory, but its allure and deceptive tactics can seduce the minds and hearts of men and women. The world’s anti-Christian philosophies, the clever talking points, the agenda of compromise and political correctness that has been covertly pumped through the entertainment world, the secular educational system, and the media has indeed turned men away from the truth. The methods may change, but the work of the enemy has always pulled men into the grip of the world. Consider Demas: “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10).
Worldliness beguiles those in its grasp, and as worldliness increases, so does the love for the world. Quickly the predator desensitizes the prey’s awareness to his need for redemption – the need to be “born again.” Worldliness distracts our attention and corrupts our mission. Scripture is full of forewarning concerning these matters. Jesus himself presented us with this frightening scenario: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13).
This issue of worldliness must not be taken lightly. In Matthew, Jesus first describes His people by providing the most profound and challenging portrait of the Church imaginable. He then quickly follows up with a clear warning that if the salt loses its savor it is “good for nothing.” We certainly must know that He is referring to the very nature of the Church itself, that He is describing the attributes of born again believers. He is not referring to a mere sprinkle of salt that might add a bit of spiritual enhancement to one’s life. He’s not suggesting a Christian yoga class, transcendental meditation, or some pseudo-religious practice to add to a believer’s daily routine. He wasn’t trying to market self-help, spiritual-hybrid products to help folks achieve success and prosperity in life. No! Christ was revealing the central issue as to the transformational mission of the Church. He states it clearly. “Ye are the salt of the earth.” But if we have no influence for righteousness, no love for the Truth, no vision of redemption, no willingness to be separate from world, we are good for nothing.
I ask again, “What can this world do to the Church?” No doubt, it can entice, intoxicate and capture the souls of men. It can draw and pull people away of their own lusts (James 1:14). So, how can we respond? What can the Church do for the world? The simple answer is: we can be what Jesus has called us to be. We can be salt and light. We can be different. We can demonstrate the transformational power of the Holy Ghost in our lives. We can be the primary influence for truth and righteousness.
Remember however, that to be what God has called us to be will instantly place us in opposition to the world. Obviously, none of us, myself included, wants to come off as insensitive, but neither do I want to be fearful in the face of a world that is bent on provoking, belittling and trashing the name of Jesus. I’m worried about the trend among some to embrace professionalism to the point that they leave aside the anointing and direction of the Holy Ghost. I fear that this is more than just trying to “get it right,” but is a symptom of a greater desire to be accepted by the world. God forbid we victimize ourselves by attempting to measure up to the opinions of the world, rather than the measurement of the Word. I fear for those who are ready to lay down the absolutes of the Apostles’ doctrine in the interest of blending into the meaningless modernism of our day. Let us not be willing to twist the Word so as to conform to every “wind of doctrine.”
“When men forget God terrible things happen.” Good men drift. Good men look away. Good men forget God. It could just as easily happen to the best preacher, to the best church, to the best student. They can lose their way when they forget that the call of God is to influence the world, not to conform to its dogmas. The call demands a standard be lifted up against the world. So let the battle be fought, the war waged – popular or not, liked or hated. If Apostolics lock the door to the Upper Room, so to speak, ignore the call to holiness, and forget that we are the salt of the world… terrible things can happen.