Lord, You have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting You are God.
You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
- Psalm 90:1-4
The other day, I was reading a book by an author I respect a great deal, and his topic was maintaining Christian faith in a post-Christian society, indeed, a post-rational society. I confess, like the author, I am of the opinion that American culture has become both post-Christian and post-rational. In fact, my suspicion is that we have moved from post-Christian to anti-Christian in America, if for no other reason than the anti-intellectual obliteration of truth subjected to personal opinion. It’s really pretty hard to proclaim and obey the truth revealed in Jesus Christ when surrounded by an ethos of relativism, i.e.: every person creates his/her own truth. But, there you have it.
Whatever the case, as I was reading, a single phrase in one sentence brought me up short. In his summation on cultivating cultural memory (who we were as a people prior to the current decline), he wrote, “To perceive the critical importance of memory and the role culture plays in preserving and transmitting it is critically important for Christianity’s survival.” (emphasis added) I understand the point he was making, and I agree. He’s far more knowledgeable and better informed than I, and I emphatically agree that we need to be much more intentional about cultivating communities of Christian culture, teaching Christian faith, and telling Christian stories – both past and present – to keep Christian faith flourishing irrespective of the environment in which we find ourselves. There is much we can and should do to strengthen our faith, deepen our commitment, and bring vitality to our relationship with Christ Jesus. But…
Christianity will survive, no matter what we do. As we enter into a time of utter indifference and increasing hostility toward Christianity, a great many different possibilities are before us. We can fall away because it’s too hard. We can hide our faith because we want to move up the corporate ladder or we want our children to get in the best colleges and universities. We can pull away from society altogether and hunker down in hopes that the craziness will blow over. We can go with the general flow of society, holding to “our truth,” which is Christian, and letting others have “their truths,” whatever that may be. We can hold onto faith for ourselves, since this is the way we know how to live, but allow our children to pick and choose what they wish to believe. Whatever we choose to do next, both individually and corporately, will influence the flourishing or the decline of Christian life and faith in this generation. Yet, even if we opt to give up Christianity as too hard or too confrontational, Christianity will survive. Christians may not survive, but Christianity will.
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.” Before anything existed at all – the earth, the solar system, the universe – when there was nothing anywhere, God existed. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the God revealed in Scripture, even in the first sentences of the first chapter of the Bible – were and are eternal and everlasting, the incomprehensible divine and inscrutable mystery Who is the Holy Trinity. Creation is dependent upon God, not vice versa. If creation ceased to exist, Christianity would still be, because Jesus Christ is everlasting and eternal.
One of the greatest challenges we face as Christians comes from within, adopted from the culture around us. We have absorbed so many assumptions from our environment and the attitudes and opinions of our generation that we do not stop and think of the countless ways in which we make God small or inconsequential. The God Who created the heavens and the earth is neither small nor inconsequential, but infinite, eternal, and everlasting. Long after the last star fades into nothingness, God will remain, as wondrous and incomprehensible, as generous and loving as He always was and is. His Kingdom never ends. We need this perspective again. Whatever else may occur in our world at this time, it is passing, and God will remain, including the Risen God-man, Jesus Christ. He will never cease to be. The limitless Presence of God, with all the majesty of His Being and the magnitude of His works entailed in that Presence, is the one unchanging truth of everything that ever was or is or ever shall be. This should have been the basis of our trust and belief throughout our lives, and this truth certainly must become the basis of Christian life and faith now.
Christians can draw such comfort, security, and encouragement from the knowledge that, regardless of what is happening in the world around, our God is unwavering in power and in love. He is the immovable and unshakable rock amidst the storms and shifting tides that threaten you. When chaos abounds and you feel as if you’re falling into an endless dark chasm, you need to know God has you. He is not going to drop you or fail you. He is not going to abandon you to whatever the fates may be. When fear grows and despair begins to overwhelm, we need to stop and listen. Into the cacophony of the world today, the Voice of Christ is whispering to each of us, “I’ve got you! I’ve got you… I will not let you be destroyed.”
The eternal existence of Truth in Jesus Christ also calls us forth and demands our allegiance. His is an everlasting claim, the inescapable Truth of the Word that brought creation into being, the creation we broke and continue to break, the creation for which He has given His life to save and redeem. The whole world can run away from it and try to hide, but we cannot un-know the Truth. You and I are part of that broken creation, and we are saved and redeemed by our God, the One Who “formed the earth and the world.”
Recovery of the grandeur, the wonder, the glory, and immortality of our Lord transforms the way we live each day. If fears and anxiety loom larger than life, turn to the true God, for yours is too small. Nothing is greater than God. The schemes of men and women will fail, and none possesses the power or wisdom to diminish our Creator, our Father, our Savior, and Lord. In due time, this generation will pass into history, and through it all, the Risen Christ never falters or wavers. The Son of God and Son of Mary, our Redeemer stands firm and holds us tightly to Himself, all the while whispering in depths of our souls, “I’ve got you! You are safe.” “For a thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past...” The giants we believe we see are but little men and women who need desperately to be gods because they do not know ours. Let us be sure that we know Him and never cease striving to know Him better.
Stand firm. Be strong. Do not fear. The Lord protects you and upholds you, and He will never leave you or forsake you. Likewise, we have no reason to abandon Him. If we would be courageous witnesses to the might and goodness of love when hate strives to destroy, we cannot look at ourselves. We must look to God and make Him alone our dwelling place. There – and there alone – the relentlessness and insatiable neediness of every human life is met with the infinite provision of God.
Cultural Christianity has a little god to supplement human genius. But what we need is the immortal Man and eternal God, the one true God Who grants knowledge and understanding to the humble and allows the proud to fall. Always, in every generation, He is calling, “Return, O children of man!”
Lift your eyes and look to the Son of God, Who calls you to Himself. For His glory and for our blessing, He invites you to become like Him.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau
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