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WE SHOULD NOT BE SURPRISED
by Philip Owen

          So you never imagined circumstances to be what you find them to be today? Freedoms curtailed; certain types of speech deemed unacceptable; federal, state, and local governments trying to dictate what is permissible for gatherings of worshipers; views on morality long regarded as essential to a healthy, stable society attacked and mores unimaginable even a decade ago promoted and even protected by legislation; lawsuits being brought against Christians who wish to operate their businesses in accord with biblical principles—and being won!—in short, a post-Christian society becoming an anti-Christian culture. I thought that “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day” (Pro. 4:18)?

           This state of affairs should come as no surprise. Culture is not Christian. Religion is not righteousness. The United States is not utopia. The hearts of unregenerate men have never changed. At any time in human history, God’s observation concerning Noah’s generation has been equally valid: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Although the judgment of the flood wiped out the entire human population with the exception of Noah, his three sons, and their four wives, it did not eradicate the desperate wickedness recessed deep within the human heart. Apart from an intervening work of grace from God in individual human hearts, mankind is steeped in unregenerate sin.

           We should not be surprised by today’s circumstances. God’s own people martyred His great prophet Isaiah, according to tradition, by sawing him in half with a wooden sword. Arguably the greatest believer in history, the apostle Paul, had his head severed from his body for standing in defense of the gospel. And, again, the Lord’s own people crucified their Messiah after seeing and enjoying three years of multitudes being fed miraculously, massive healings of people plagued by every disease and infirmity imaginable, and even several resurrections of the dead. As the hymnist said, “this world is not a friend to God.” Nor to God’s people, he might have added.

           We should not be surprised by today’s circumstances. The Lord warned His disciples that they (and we who have followed them) would be hated: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18). And half a century after Christ uttered those words, the beloved apostle John echoed the same thought: “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you” (I John 3:13).       

           We should not be surprised by today’s circumstances. During the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church massacred thousands of real saints. The Marxist revolutions in Russia and China did the same thing, killing innumerable Christians along with many political enemies of the state; Viet Nam and Cambodia followed suit. And these are only the more obvious examples.

           What should surprise us is that for four centuries this land has proven to be an oasis for believers, who have worshiped, testified, and lived their faith virtually unmolested, in unprecedented peace. Those circumstances have changed and, apparently, will continue to change. But the promise is true, the path of the righteous does shine brighter and brighter because the path of the righteous does not lie in this or some other earthly continent, nor is it secured by the Constitution or any other human document. Neither is it protected on the basis of the goodness of human nature. No, the path of the righteous is the path of righteousness, a path blazed by Christ through the cross, a path that leads through this world, with all its woes, directly into the eternal presence of the Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. This world is racing to hell, so you can expect it to crash into anything in its path. If you are a believer, you are in its path. If you know the Lord, be thankful, be faithful, be loving, be a light.

 

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