What We Must Do (8)
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6.2
‘Tis the season!
I suspect that some believers in Jerusalem, when they saw what happened to Stephen, and as they came under the rampages and threats of Saul of Tarsus, may have had second thoughts about whether the time was right to be making bold stands for Christ and His Kingdom. Most continued faithful in proclaiming the Good News, even as they were scattered from their homes. But undoubtedly there were some whose courage waivered.
Apparently, many Christians today have reached the same conclusion concerning the work of sowing good Kingdom seed in our secular and narcissistic age. Whereas those first Christians went everywhere “gossiping the Gospel” (Michael Green), Christians today are trapped in a spiral of silence, cowed into silence by the dominant worldview of unbelief.
At the risk of seeming to be out of touch with reality, I want to insist that the time has never been riper for Christians to be making their case for the Gospel of the Kingdom.
I know, I know: it seems more like a time for us to be hunkering down and lying low. The atheists among us are angry and aggressive. New websites pop up each week touting the virtues of atheism, and the evangelists for that cause – Dawkins, Krauss, Harris, et al – have achieved the status of rock stars. Christians are being pot-shot from every angle: we’re uneducated, irrelevant, hypocritical, opposed to science, and on and on.
Some of those charges, we know, have the ring of truth. And most Christians seem to be getting the point: All this loud objecting and protesting and threatening means we’d better tone down our witness for now and concentrate on our own personal relationship with Jesus.
But I want to insist otherwise.
Now is no time for shying away from engagement for the Gospel. The tares have sunk deep roots throughout the Lord’s field, it’s true, and they are propagating and spreading by every means. Nevertheless, now is the favorable time for Christians to declare and defend the Christian worldview. Now is the day of salvation, and all believers must be diligent in proclaiming the Good News at every opportunity and by every means.
Why all this fuss?
I’ve been thinking a lot of late about all this atheistic harrumphing, this unbelieving Sturm und Drang. There have always been atheists, and probably more in the past than today. Why are they suddenly so up in arms? Why so loud and angry? Why all this protesting against a Christian presence which, in the West, at least, has become weaker and more marginal over the past two decades?
Then it hit me. I recalled the words of Hamlet’s mother, the queen, in Act III, Scene II, as she watched the play Hamlet had written to expose her and her new husband’s treachery. The queen began to squirm as the actor playing the queen confidently insists she will remain a widow after her husband’s death – unlike Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet asks his mother, “Madam, how do you like the play?” To which she protests, “The lady protests too much, methinks.”
What the queen objected to was that the play threatened to expose her wickedness in marrying the murderer of Hamlet’s father, the king, and of thus participating in his treachery. She felt exposed and about to be undone, and so she protested the lines of the queen in Hamlet’s play.
Atheism in trouble
Something like this is happening in the secular, unbelieving community in our day.
As Alister McGrath pointed out in his 2004 book, The Twilight of Atheism, unbelief is retreating all over the world, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. Recent research shows that, for all their “evangelizing” and harrumphing, atheists have not been able to persuade more than 2% of the world’s population.
At the same time, Christians are popping up everywhere – in the former Soviet Union, all over Africa and Latin America, in China, Korea, and Southeast Asia, even among the nations of the Muslim world.
What’s more, certain Christians are becoming outspoken on behalf of a Christian worldview. They are calling for the application of the Gospel to every area of life, pointing out that true human flourishing comes only when God’s Word is obeyed, and challenging the presumptions of various groups and movements concerning such matters as the definition of marriage, the beginnings and value of life, and the freedom of religion. Christians around the world are sowing good Kingdom seed into the Lord’s field, and it’s only a matter of time before much of that seed takes root and begins to flourish.
Even more, Christians have established themselves firmly as intellectual leaders in a variety of academic disciplines, and their views are being received by peers and students with great interest and attention.
Atheists are protesting because their ranks are declining, their folly is being exposed, and their frivolous view of life is in danger of being overrun by the progress of the Kingdom of God. Now is indeed the favorable time for what we as Christians must do in sowing the Gospel of the Kingdom throughout our Personal Mission Fields.
For now – now – is the day of salvation!
1. Contemporary evangelists for atheism seem a lot like the wizard in The Wizard of Oz, when Toto has drawn back the curtain and exposed the charade. Do you agree? Why or why not?
2. For all their hard work, the evangelists for atheism have not managed to persuade more than 2% of the world’s population to let go belief in God. What does this suggest about the times in which we live and the people with whom we have to do each day? Is the dominant secular and narcissistic worldview beginning to unravel?
3. What about you? Would you describe yourself as one of those Christians who “are becoming outspoken on behalf of a Christian worldview”? Why or why not? Would you like to become more like this?
Next steps – Preparation: Have you mapped out your Personal Mission Field yet? Now’s the time do so, and to begin making your case for the Gospel to all the people you see each week. Watch the video on Personal Mission Field, which you can find on our home page, beneath the fold (www.ailbe.org).
T. M. Moore
We must be ready with the Gospel as the Lord gives us opportunities in our Personal Mission Field. Our little book, The Gospel of the Kingdom, can help you to be ready to give an answer and explanation for the hope others see in you. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.