We have a very mixed up culture that is doing two things at the same time. We are becoming shallower, coarser, more interested in acquiring things and more ethically and morally confused as we distance ourselves from our past traditions. But at the same time, we are crying out for meaning. We want to be touched at the deepest point in our lives but nothing in our secular culture is capable of doing that. Karl Barth, considered by many to be the greatest theologian of the 20th Century, was once asked, “Why do people go to church?” He answered, “People go to church asking the question: ‘Is it true? I have heard that there is a loving God who presides over this universe and who knows when even the tiniest sparrow falls from the sky. I have heard that He so loved the world that He sent his own Son to become its Savior and to give us eternal life. Can I really trust my life to His care? Is it true? Can I count on it?”
I consider these times to be among the most challenging times in all of history to be alive. It is true that many of us within the church are fearful and cynical of these times, pointing in horror to abominable philosophies and practices that recall some of the worst days of Old Testament paganism. It reminds me of the old story of two shoe salesmen who went to East Africa to explore business opportunities. The one contacted his company immediately saying, “Forget it! No one here wears shoes!” But the other excitedly phoned his company and exclaimed, “Send me as many shoes in all sizes possible. Opportunities are unlimited!”
We may be living a wonderful moment in history, as those old frauds the World, the Flesh and the Devil are discredited by the very culture they have nearly destroyed. As the dust settles and the air clears, we may see a widespread readiness to respond to something deeper. People have had it with the way their lives are going and some of them have the good sense to realize that improved goods and services are not going to help. That brings us back to Karl Barth’s question “Is it true?” And right here lies our greatest opportunity. We have said Christ can change even the worst of sinners. He can bring direction where there was previously only confusion. If that is so, then let us prove it. If we can’t show the world people with changed hearts, radically altered values and genuine love and forgiveness then we have no right to be in business and will only be part of the problem instead of the solution. Christian, get your house together. The direction your pagan neighbor turns next may well depend on what he sees in you.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship