I have been feeling that I am not in sync with the world. It is easy for me to know intellectually and even tell others not to be alarmed when feeling this way. Still, I am sometimes alarmed and sometimes depressed.
Since the days of the early church, Christians and the world have been distinctly different from one another. I know this, so why do I feel depressed and alone?
During the formation of the church, the Christians were the ones accused of turning the world up-side-down. Speaking of Paul and some of the apostles we read in Acts 17:
1 When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbaths he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he declared. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few leading women.
5 The Jews, however, became jealous. So they brought in some troublemakers from the marketplace, formed a mob, and sent the city into an uproar. They raided Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas, hoping to bring them out to the people. 6But when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying there is another king, named Jesus!”
8 On hearing this, the crowd and city officials were greatly disturbed. 9 And after they had collected bond from Jason and the others, they released them.
We see that the message of Christ was not readily accepted in the Roman world. Also, I notice that some of the same characteristics that mark non-believers today were true then, yet some believed. At that time, when Paul reasoned with them showing them from the scriptures concerning Jesus, “Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few leading women.“
I notice who gave trouble in those days – the Jews. The very people who knew the scriptures, or should have known, but their eyes were blinded. The Jews became jealous and “brought in troublemakers’, caused a riot or uproar, and raided the home of Jason looking for Paul, and not because they wanted to award him a good conduct medal. I suspect, if they had owned buses, they would have bused in demonstrators. 🙂 Just as the Jews, who should have cared about God and who were looking for the Messiah, hated the early Christians, I am finding Americans who once cared about the Bible and claimed to believe in Christ no longer love born-again believers. Who is turning against believers today? Is it not those who know the teachings of Christ and the Bible? Within America we find those “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power?” Today, outside of America, many who haven’t heard are converted, but few within America are being saved and Christians who take a stand are often ridiculed or demonized.
Many have warned that we are one generation away from a population who doesn’t know the Lord God, who doesn’t trust Christ as Lord, and who begins to believe that those who worship God are despicable and deserve persecution.
Look at the history of Nazi Germany. Most could not believe that a man would do what Adolf Hitler did. Most had no idea they were in danger until it was too late. Consider the fate:
…of pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Nazi Germany who served in the nation that gradually went from a sophisticated, Christian country to a place that persecuted Jews and Christians fighting for freedom from Hitler’s totalitarian regime. Bonhoeffer chose to speak out during the beginning of the rise of the Nazi party and eventually lost his life when things in the country drastically changed in just 10 years’ time.
“The idea of Jews and Christians being not just persecuted, but put to death like Bonhoeffer himself was, was unfathomable,” he said. “You wonder sometimes well why didn’t the Jews see this and move? It was unfathomable to them that in a country like [Germany] that could happen. Same thing here, you think it’s just impossible for that to happen in America…
Yet, if you look around you will notice that the world is truly up-side-down. People often argue that right is wrong and that wrong is right. Media will condemn a person for a small offense while overlooking gross wickedness. People have little or no ability to discern. Jesus called it ‘straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel.’ (You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
I must recognize it can and is happening in America, yet not lose hope or joy.
Our schools have effectively taught several generations humanism while church attendance has dwindled.
So how should Christians who remain walk?
I need to be sure that I do not just have a form of godliness. Also I must:
15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to reckless indiscretion. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5
I think, for myself, and all Christians, it comes down to how we spend our time. If we spend time living holy lives as Christians should and seeking the will of God, the Spirit will lead us and show us how to walk up-rightly in a world that feels up-side-down. For me, I need to spend more time listening to the Lord and less time listening to worldly reports.