The Season has Changed: Christian Exiles in America

The season is already changing here in central Virginia.  We’ve already dipped into the 40’s overnight.  This morning it was 60 degrees, crisp, bright and lushly green.  I just love it.  But soon the frost will come and winter follows. Most of the foliage will disappear.

Let’s face it: seasons change. And denying it doesn’t help. You’ve got to adjust your approach and expectations in each season.

A lot of Christians today are cursing the culture around us and trying to believe it’s not changing; that this is the same world that our grandparents (or great grandparents for those still wet behind the ears!) enjoyed 50-60 years ago. But it’s not.  I agree that a lot of the changes in our culture are certainly carrying us further away from God’s ideas and order. But we need to have a biblical model for responding.

Here’s an article that John Piper published exactly ten years ago today.  If it was true then, how much more now?  See what you think. You can find the original post over at DesiringGod.org  .

Being Christian exiles in American culture does not end our influence; it takes the swagger out of it. We don’t get cranky that our country has been taken away. We don’t whine about the triumphs of evil. We are not hardened with anger. We understand. This is not new. This was the way it was in the beginning –- Antioch, Corinth, Athens, Rome. The Empire was not just degenerate, it was deadly. For three explosive centuries Christians paid for their Christ-exalting joy with blood. Many still do. More will.

It never occurred to those early exiles that they should rant about the ubiquity of secular humanism. The Imperial words were still ringing in their ears: “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13). This was a time for indomitable joy and unwavering ministries of mercy.

Yes, it was a time for influence–-as it is now. But not with huffing and puffing as if to reclaim our lost laws. Rather with tears and persuasion and perseverance, knowing that the folly of racism, and the exploitation of the poor, and the de-Godding of education, and the horror of abortion, and the collapse of heterosexual marriage, are the tragic death-tremors of joy, not the victory of the left or the right.

The greatness of Christian exiles is not success but service. Whether we win or lose, we witness to the way of truth and beauty and joy. We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ.

Piper says that seeing that our culture has changed shouldn’t make us cranky, whining, or angry.  He suggests that we embrace the mindset of the First Century church.  Instead of feeling like the owners of the culture, we must become servants here.

I don’t look to the future with any sense of deep fear or nostalgic sadness. This doesn’t absolve me of the need to seek God’s face and be ready to obey Him even in unpopular ways. But it does release me to rest in God’s sovereignty over nations. I realize that the church will no doubt look different in a few years/decades – either because of or in spite of our best efforts.  We may even be sacrificed to the lions (or at least the courts).

Or God may be pleased to grant another national revival here.  Let us pray and labor to that end. But He’s under no obligation to do so.  Especially seeing that so many nations of our world have never had even a first nation-wide revival (think Great Awakening).  Shouldn’t we be as equally available and enthusiastic to serve His glorious purposes in America, Africa, Asia, Arabia, or anywhere?
He is the Lord of the Harvest – and that includes the seasons.  Our job is to discern His timing and keep in step.  We are pilgrims here.
Thoughts?

9 thoughts on “The Season has Changed: Christian Exiles in America

  1. Yes, thank you for these thoughts. In Canada, in some ways we have moved further down the path of degradation as a nation than the US, but there are those brights who are standing for truth. We don’t see the polarization you do because we are probably more complacent. At least there are those who are publically standing in the US and mention the name of God. Please pray for us. Will we grieve for the lost around us and seek to win them? We have many internationals in our midst. The work is overwhelming of what there is to do, but many are very busy and church seems like another thing on the list of things to do for a lot of people and passion for the lost is lost in getting by or seeing what pleasures we can enjoy. May God help us in these days not to be swept along in the tide of today!

    • Thanks for sharing, Janet. I saw new statistics for the US a couple weeks back. 20% of people in American don’t personally know a person who is a Christian. The survey revealed this is mostly due to influx of immigrants, who keep to their own communities. That coupled with the nominalism and complacency of cultural Christians, and Dorothy is no longer in Kansas! This is is post-Christian America (and Canada). We are missionary pilgrims here.

      • Thank you for your reply, Dane. I have been thinking about this topic for a few days. I want to be most effective in my world and I wonder who to partner with. Our church had a day camp and only silly songs were sung publically, no Bible reading, no prayer, little talk of God. I had my lesson time in which I had a focused Bible time and had one scriptural song. It seems like the message was not integrated into the whole picture. We must put God in a very safe spot. I hope I will have the right things to say and the right attitude when I bring up my concerns. This is a Bible-believing Baptist church where the gospel is preached from the pulpit. I hope this situation can be rectified for next year. What a loss of opportunity! How can we reach the neighbourhood if our purpose is unfocussed on the inside? What is going on and what is really going on?

      • P.S. Oh, yes, there was one song about being lost that was upbeat and more for teens. It was about hanging on to hope, but nothing about the Saviour and the sure hope we have.

  2. Michael Oakes says:

    You did a excellent job of illustrating a biblical model! I believe that this is a time of character building that The Lord has mercifully bestowed upon our culture. You described it as a change of season. I wonder if it is a time in the desert. By being Spirit led we will transform, God willing…into people more willing to serve and be better equipped to reflect The Kingdom of God as long as we continue to work on our relationship with Him. Jesus was led into the desert right after what could be seen as one of the best moments in His walk on Earth. Which was right after He was baptized in water. The Father proclaimed from heaven His pleasure with Him. The Holy Spirit appeared beautifully like a dove over Jesus then led Him into the desert to be tempted and tested for 40 days and nights. This is a time when men and women find out who they really are. I believe Jesus was successful against the devil because He continued to seek His Father’s will. Mean time I’m praying for that revival you spoke about! Thanks Dane!

  3. David Wiseman says:

    Well, I am not popular with my family right now. Why? My older brother Steve is getting married to his long time partner Rick on Oct.26 and Nancy and I are not going. I love my brother, but I hate his lifestyle. I don’t even know if we will be invited to family gatherings in the future because of my decision. I was recently in the hospital for TIA (strokes) and I get a letter from my Mother stating, “Can’t you go to the wedding and be ‘uncomfortable’ for 15-20 minutes.” I’m alive because of my Savior Jesus Christ! I will not turn my back on Him for any amount of time.
    I read in the Orange County (Ca.) paper that gay marriage is being accepted by the evangelical churches. I wonder where the writer of this article obtained his information. The only church I know that welcomes gay marriage is my parents church in Redlands, Ca. Yes, I hear it, “California, the land of fruits and nuts!”
    I will not conform to this world!

    • You have a wise name. So follow wise counsel from the Word and advice. I recall a situation where we didn’t go to our friends wedding because something about it was so confusing. We just weren’t ready to agree to it. Things were just too weird. We weren’t sure it was God’s will. We felt terrible. We didn’t want to stand with them in a mistake. But they forgave us and we still have a relationship. But, for you it is a difficult decision involving family. We don’t know what we would to the next time. Pray really hard and ask others to join you. Pray that they will be released from demonic strong hold, because there is a strong deception in this. We have this terrible problem in Canada too. We’re on a quick downward slide with no morality and its being pushed in the public schools here too. We have lost our moral compass. I don’t know if there is a way you can tell them you care for them as people but do not agree with the decision or the concept. I don’t know how you can do this with out going and speaking to them face to face. It’s such a hard decision. May you have great peace in what you decide to do.

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