Reprinted from January 1987
August 2007 – Back when I had the privilege of serving a local church as pastor, I would preach the same sermon two or three times over a period of months or years. The reason? Some things need to be said more than once, just as some things should never be said the first time.
I would hate to count the times I have said in this column, and in appearances all over this great country, that we are in the midst of a spiritual war. But that is precisely the situation.
At stake in this spiritual war is the very foundation, not only of our country, but of the whole of Western Civilization. The progress we have made, the freedoms we have enjoyed these past two centuries, have come primarily because our society was founded on the Christian view of man. There is an intentional, powerful effort currently being made to change the base of that foundation, to rid it of Christian influence, and to replace that base with a secular, materialist, humanistic view of man.
Three hundred years from now, when historians write about the current era in which we live, they will refer to this spiritual war as being the most important struggle the organized Church has faced since Constantine. I am sure of that. What I am not sure of is how they will report the outcome.
The organized Church has spent far too much time and placed far too much importance on buildings and budgets and far too little time informing and leading its people in facing this spiritual war. Too much of our activity, on the local church level and on the denominational level, has been inward. “He who finds his life shall lose it; and he that loses his life for My sake shall find it.” That is as true for the organized Church as it is for individuals.
Let me paraphrase some other words of Jesus: “What shall it profit a church if it builds the largest and finest buildings, fills them with people, and raises great sums of money, while its members lose their souls?”
I am not saying that buildings and budgets aren’t important, because they are. But I am saying that there is something far more important.
The increase in crime, breakdown of families, and increases in divorce, abortion, pornography, etc., are not simply separate areas of concern. They are all interrelated, symptoms of the spiritual war being waged.
At the very heart of the Christian Gospel is a cross – the symbol of suffering and sacrifice, of hurt and pain and humiliation and rejection. I want no part of a Christian message which does not call me to involvement, requires of me no sacrifice, takes from me no comfort, requires of me less than my best.
The duty of a Christian is to be faithful, not popular or successful.
I hope, for our Lord’s sake and the sake of those who come after us, that those of us who bear Christ’s name will not shirk our responsibility for the sake of respectability.
If Christ will use this repentant sinner as a soldier in this spiritual war, I will count it the highest honor
I could receive.