The world, including the church, is full of much devastation, sickness, heart ache, broken homes, wounded men women and children. There are physical and psychological problems in overwhelming proportions, in the church almost equally as in the world. We have long lost our status as being radically different from the world. . .for the Light God intended us to be, has almost been extinguished. Yet through it all, the general thought among evangelicals is: the Lord will come and get us out of here one of these days. . .and then He’ll bring us back after the marriage supper of the Lamb and set things right in the earth!
But it has happened according to the lamentation of God through the prophet Jeremiah: “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). We have defiled God’s inheritance in the earth. We have allowed so many carnal and worldly things to come into the church, in the foolish supposition that if we become more like the world we will not be considered to be so radical after all, and we might be able to win some of them to the Lord. In this day, especially in our free land, we can relate to the world quite well. We can emphasize how God is gracious and loving, so they need not fear to come to our church. Come and enjoy listening to our wonderful orchestra and choir—and make God to be your loving daddy! You can come to our church and have lots of fun. I am reminded of what the late A. W. Tozer said, and I would like to quote a paragraph or two from a tract I came across entitled—
“The Old Cross and the New”
“The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.
“The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.
“The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, Come and assert yourself for Christ. To the egotist it says , Come and do your boasting in the Lord. To the thrill-seeker it says, Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship. The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.
“The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere, but sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.
“The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life redirected; he was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromises, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.”—by A. W. Tozer The cross of Jesus meant pardon and forgiveness and cleansing from all sin. . .and certainly we must never lose sight of that. But to the apostle Paul the cross me ant much more than that. It meant that the old man, the old life. . .was no more. This is a revelation of Christ we must have, if we are going to walk in the pathway of true discipleship. We must know that we were crucified with Him, when He hung on the cross.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). He died for us on the cross. And we were crucified with Him. . .
It is only too evident that even dedicated Christians are very much aware that we fall far short of vital identification with Christ and His cross. And it is true we cannot make it happen. No amount of self-inflicted punishment can make it happen. But I am assured that the Lord who walks among the lampstands, is going to restore that true Testimony of Jesus in the earth—and the world will rise up against that Testimony, and seek to destroy it from the face of the earth. And this is where the true cross is revealed. . .when His people begin to shine forth with the Testimony of Jesus. I know this is happening in parts of the world today. . .but here in what we call the free world—we are far from it. Our freedom is not because we stand for democratic principles of free speech and expression. It is rather because we walk hand in hand with a world that hates God and His Christ.
When God rises up in our midst, and brings forth a true Testimony of Jesus in the land—we could very well face the same kind of persecution that other nations are suffering today. But as long as our Light continues to degenerate into a state of darkness—there is little reason for people who dwell in darkness to complain too much about us.