2. “Whilst the guilty approach unto me to eat up my flesh” [Psalm 27:2]. Whilst the guilty come near to recognise and insult me, that they may exalt themselves above me in my change for the better; that with their reviling tooth they may consume not me, but rather my fleshly desires. “Mine enemies who trouble me.” Not they only who trouble me, blaming me with a friendly intent, and wishing to recall me from my purpose, but mine enemies also. “They became weak, and fell.” Whilst then they do this with the desire of defending their own opinion, they became weak to believe better things, and began to hate the word of salvation, whereby I do what displeases them.
[Augustine of Hippo, Expositions on the Book of Psalms, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 8, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 64.]
America, to be blunt, is metastasizing into something terrible and dangerous—a perversion of what it was intended to be. It prides itself as being the most advanced defender of freedom, while it is actually moving backwards to where the freedoms we thought were inalienable are now quite alienated—where the rights for all have been replaced with government privileges for favored groups. The Church has warned against this decline, and has been declared an “enemy of freedom” for her pains.
It is no longer even enough for Americans to tolerate relativism about morality that was pushed through out the 1980s and 1990s. Then, the insistence was people should be allowed to believe whatever they like and people who disagree with this position should have no right to impose otherwise. Today, whoever does not accept the current diktat about changing morality to accept what was once condemned as morally wrong can expect to be viewed with suspicion at best and, increasingly, hostility which is unchecked—and even encouraged by—the government.
Christians who have not compromised (and that number is sadly dwindling) and reject the idea that we can change morality to suit themselves are greeted with increasing hostility. It’s no longer a case of:
Now it’s a case of “If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed!"
We can see this in the antics by the media over the Church. An attempt to co-opt the Catholics by misrepresenting the words of the Pope and trying to make the Pope appear to be in opposition to the bishops, the Pope has said too many things standing up for the traditional Catholic teaching. Only the least informed still believe he is going to change the teaching of the Church. So, we’re seeing the media move away from the lie that “Even your Pope is with us,” towards seeing an increase in hostility towards the Church in general.
This increased hostility is simply because the Church will not go along with calling evil “good.” The world wants approval for its sins. But the Church will not give this approval. The Church speaks out against many things that the world wants to do. Not because she is reactionary, or ornery. She speaks out because she is tasked with going out to the world in order to spread the Word of Salvation and to speak out against the behaviors which separate humanity from God.
The world does not mind a belief in God. What it does is resent a belief in God which requires change in behavior. People who want to think of themselves as “good,” resent being told that they do evil—especially when the evil condemned is something they do not want to give up. People have no problems speaking against evil which offends them, but tell them that the behavior they like is wrong and people become hostile.
The message of the Church is simple:
- God Exists and loves us.
- But, we are alienated from Him.
- He sent His Son to free us from our sins and restore our relationship with Him—which is impossible to do apart from Him
- We must respond by ceasing to live in a way which separates us from Him
Unfortunately, people don’t want the conditions of repentance. They want Cheap Grace, where God’s grace is given them without needing to do anything. They hate the requirement that we respond to God’s call in any meaningful way. But most people don’t want to actually reject God outright. They want to think of themselves as being “good.” So they respond by pretending that anything in the Christian message which says they are sinners who need to repent must be invented by the Church. The Church is seen as “cold and bureaucratic” because she insists on being faithful to God’s Great Commission.
Ultimately, the hostility to the Church in these matters is a rebellion against God while people pretend they are not rebelling against God. People tell themselves that if only the Church would change, things would be fine. But the problem is, the Church is only teaching what God has taught. If people hate this teaching, they are hating the Word of Salvation—even if they try to pretend that they love God.
People want what H. Richard Niebuhr called “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” But that is not the reality. It is the complete perversion of the truth.
People have free will of course. They can refuse to accept what God called them to do (repent) and can refuse to hear the means He chose to reach out to them (the Church). But they need to realize that, in doing so, they are not rejecting a human group. They are rejecting God (Luke 10:16). That’s pretty serious. We need to realize that this life and this world is not all there is. What we are called to goes beyond the present. What we choose to do has consequences. If we choose what goes against God’s call, and refuse to repent, we will eventually discover that we have used our free will to our ruin. It will not be a case of God being petty or the Church being bureaucratic. It will be a case of us refusing to board the ship before it sails. Once it sails, it will be too late to get on board.
(How Can A Person Blame God or the Church, Once the Ship Has Sailed, When the Person Was the One who Refused to Board In the First Place?)
21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,* but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)