There was a time, not so long ago, in western countries, that society was pretty civil, people were basically decent and business could be done on a handshake. Even when people disagreed, they did so with civility and a certain amount of respect for the other person. Christians, churches and pastors were respected by unbelievers and Christians tolerated one another, even if they did not always love one another.
But now it seems that not a day goes by without someone remarking that they don’t know what has gone wrong with the world. Everyone seems crazy, hate is proliferating, everyone seems to be out to get you and Christians everywhere feel they are losing their rights as everyone tries to enforce their rights at the expense of everyone else. Those involved in politics, whether professionally or as a citizen, left or right, believer or unbeliever have adopted an all-or-nothing, scorched-earth policy. Truth and integrity are concepts from a different era and are almost non-existent among Christians, let alone in the world.
While these changes have been taking place gradually for a long time, they have escalated at an unrepresented rate in the past five years. This has left many in shock, feeling that they world is not the one they had known all of their lives. Some believers don’t know how to process it all, while others have felt that the only way to survive is to out fight, out cheat and out disrespect everyone else. I want to address the first group. It is too late for the second group and there is not much that can be said to them except to call them to repentance.
The question: “what’s gone wrong with the world?” is the wrong question. Nothing has gone wrong with it. What we are seeing is the world in in its natural habitat, doing what it has always done. The world has not been a nice place ever since Cain killed his brother. Fighting, killing, lying, cheating, denying other’s rights is what the world has always done. Nero, Hitler, and the Inquisition were not anomalies, but simply the true nature of unregenerate man being evident.
“being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; [they are] whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:29-32).
Man’s heart has not changed. It has always been evil continually “Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord.” (Proverbs 6:14); “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). But, for a while there were certain restraints that curbed the evil from being unmasked in all its ugliness.
The fist restraint was the testimony of the church. The Lord called us to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14) and for a time, the Christian church did just that. By biblical preaching and godly living, the church constrained evil. This had nothing to do with political influence but was a spiritual influence in the world. But the church has forsaken its calling and mission and has become as immoral, materialistic and as carnal as the world. There is little, or no, difference between “Christians” and unbelievers in the way they live their lives. Christians indulge with alacrity in all the sins of the world and often beat the world at their own race to the muck.
Preachers and spiritual leaders have likewise forsaken godly living and the preaching of the truth of God’s word. They have not only embraced the world’s ways and values in their own lives, but have perverted the Word of God in order to hide their personal sin and to keep the money flowing from their donors. The preachers who will preach the truth at the expense of views, likes and clicks on the internet have died out long ago. Even those who preach a holiness message, only do so when they speak of the world outside, but they will never call their supporters to account since they themselves are compromised and their egos need the acclaim of their followers. Holiness preaching has become nothing more than: “God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11)
The second restraint was political leaders, who even though only outwardly, held to Judeo-Christian values. In most cases this was a result of a nominal Christian upbringing and the influence of Christians in the world. But in recent years, and in several western countries, we have seen men rise to power who have no moral compass at all. These are men who do not fear God and know nothing about his Word. I am not suggesting that the former school of leaders were Christians. They were not, but they had the outward form of being somewhat just and were guided by Judeo-Christian norms. But the modern crop of leaders have thrown off all restraints and do not fear God. Sadly, these men are often voted into power by Christians who, because they themselves have no understanding of truth and morality believe them to be good men and trust them to promote conservative values.
Thirdly, as we draw closer to the end, Satan knowing his time is short (Revelation 12:12) and that there is no longer a church and prophets that will stand against evil, is unleashing his deception and evil in a final push to destroy God’s church. Sadly, not only is the church not standing against the evil, but it is actively promoting it.
The question: “what’s gone wrong with the world?” is the wrong question. The question should be “why are we surprised?” We should not be surprised at all. The world is the world and it never has been our friend. It has always been corrupt and evil, under the control of Satan, and in opposition to the true church. This was predicted to become worse: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13).
But we are surprised because the church has become friends with the world and has loved the world, its sin and wickedness “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15-16). We assumed the feeling would be mutual and that the world would love us back and yes, we have been deceived. No matter how much the church loves the world and tries to be like it, the world will always hate the church. When will we wake up to understand that the world is not our friend but is our enemy? When will we realize that we cannot Christianize the world except through the unadulterated Gospel of the cross? And when will we realize that “… friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
Two thousand years ago John warned us to not be surprised: “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13). So why are we surprised? Do we not believe the Word, or do we think that we have a special dispensation that will exempt us from the persecution that has always been common to all believers?
It is high time (if not too late) for the church to stop its adulterous affair with the world and to be the spotless bride of Christ, to which we have been redeemed.
“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. “For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18:4-5).