Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

Living In Precarious Times
by Rayola Kelley

     A very popular subject in the Christian realm that often proves controversial is faith. For years I have tried to come to terms with what it means to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). I used to think the Scripture was in reference to a person having to actually see something with his or her eyes before he or she will believe it. However, the sight it often refers to is not necessarily based on what we see, but on what we perceive or understand about a matter.

      I learned a long time ago that I can’t really trust my physical sight, but I do put a lot of credence in what I think I understand. When I encountered Scriptures such as Proverbs 3:5-7: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the LORD, and depart from evil,” I did not in my initial Christian walk connect the dots that I was walking according to my own understanding that made me wise in my own eyes.

      As Christians in America, we are coming into precarious times. We can tout, debate and argue about what constitutes unfeigned faith that was first delivered to the saints, but the harsh reality is that many of us have not had to live by faith (Jude 3). The abundance of the world we live in has afforded us various options. As a result, we can believe that we have been walking by faith in a matter, but in most cases, we are walking according to what we perceive to be our best option and trusting that God will see it our way and bless us in our endeavors. In all honesty, many Christians in America have not been prepared to stand in faith, withstand according to faith, and remain steadfastly standing because of faith during times of great trials and tribulations. In America, we have always had some type of option or world’s system to fall back on as a solution to most matters.

      Sadly, the prosperous environment we Americans have lived in has allowed Christians to develop, adopt or buy erroneous teachings about faith, such as “Positive Confession.” This is where you confess something into being by using God’s promises as a means to lay claim to the best God has to offer. Such methods are nothing more than futile attempts of trying to twist God’s arm to get one’s way, especially in regard to worldly wealth.

      Although there have been many people who have been left spiritually shipwrecked in their faith by such heretical nonsense, it has financially served the preachers and teachers well who have shrewdly used this teaching to fleece the sheep for the last three or four decades. In some cases they have made their converts two-fold the people of hell than themselves. I shudder to think of the damnation these deluded fools are heaping upon themselves, and the great woe they are bringing upon those who innocently or foolishly believe and follow them.

      It does not take a rocket scientist to see that all the world’s systems are beginning to collapse around us. Retirement plans have dissipated before our eyes. Financial security is becoming a nightmare that is flinging many into a pit of utter despair. Hard work is now being mocked, playing by the rules is being taxed beyond comprehension, and trusting that it will all work out in the end because we live in America is being revealed as nothing more than a pipe dream.

      We must ask ourselves where is the Church in this time? How much of it is asleep, or sitting back on its laurels waiting for Christ to appear and deliver it from the dark storm that is clearly looming on the horizon and is about to consume America? It is hard to say where the Church is, but I can tell you what God is doing. He is shaking the foundations upon which this nation and the “professing Church” stands. He has warned us that such shaking would take place in Hebrews 12:26-27.

      The reason for such shaking is to reveal the stability of something. Is what a person or nation holds to as truth and righteousness truly built on and according to the fickle standards of worldly systems, or is it built on and according to the principles and truths of the eternal foundation that God has established? Such shaking will bring down any false structure of belief and cause all faulty foundations to crumble (Matthew 7:24-27).

      As I consider the shaking taking place,I realize that it started as a small nudge and is now working its way up to earthquake proportions. As I ponder this shaking, I realize that God is trying to shake a sleeping nation awake, stir up a spiritually dulled down church to consider where it is standing, and alert people to the abyss of destruction that lies ahead of them if they do not change direction.

      The one thing I have discovered about myself when I first wake up in the morning is that I must first get my bearings if I am going to function. Where am I and where do I need to be to accomplish what I must complete? When people are asleep, they are not aware of what is happening around them. If they do not get their bearings, they become confused and lost.

      How long ago did we as a nation lose our bearings? The truth is we have been getting away from the center for a long time. For this nation, the center of who we are and what makes us distinct as a unique nation is our Judeo-Christian principles, our Constitution, and our generous spirit because we recognize we were blessed of God as a nation.

      As long as we remembered what made us great as a nation, we would not lose our way. However, we failed to recognize that many in our educational system were actually enemies that opposed what made this nation great. Their ideology began to influence the hearts and minds of the younger generation. As a result, the enemy can be found within many of America’s homes, causing conflict, division, and despair while being reduced to rubble around us.

      It is clear that America has been asleep to the cancer that has been growing under the cover of darkness. This cancer has various names, but we know it to be Communism, Marxist or progressive ideology. It attacks decency, morality and freedom. Sadly, the younger generation has been indoctrinated into it, thereby, standing ignorant, numb and indifferent to its destructive ways. The older generation has been medicated into accepting a false security while living in a state of denial that this nation is in trouble. In fact, it is fast becoming a third world country where there is a constant move for a despot to serve as a dictator at the helm rather than a president.

      From all appearances many in America is waking up. But, consider the shaking that has been going on. The Lord has mercifully exposed and brought down the idols so many Americans have been unknowingly bowing down to, such as money, material wealth, and self-centered lifestyles. Many are losing their jobs, small businesses are becoming casualties, and others are feeling the oppressive claws of fear grip their resolve as it robs them of hope and their quality of life.

      What can we perceive about this shaking where the church is concerned? As I consider the different reactions of those who call themselves Christians, I have seen a variety of responses. I would like to share my observation with you as to what I have observed.

      The Jonah Syndrome: If you ask me what God’s real aim is when He shakes nations, my answer would be that He probably is really after the sleeping, dulled down element of the Church. When God allowed a storm to grip the ship that Jonah was on, it was not because God was after the crew on the ship; rather, He was after Jonah.

      As I watch and listen to the actions and reactions of many Christians, I have to admit I do not see much movement, even in the midst of the great shaking that is going on. It seems as if the different churches around me are carrying on with business as usual. Their signboards often sport silly, worldly, cutesy little nonsensical sayings. It is as though they are Jonahs, hiding or sleeping in the hulls of their little religious pews while the storm rages around them. They are so asleep or living in such denial of the times that we are living in that they are unaware of or indifferent to the danger they are putting others in. After all, there are no cries of prayerful intercession or calls for repentance coming from their sanctuaries. There is no awareness of the seriousness of the times they are living in, and what it will mean for those who are sitting by them if they fail to properly prepare them, along with warning unsuspecting souls from without. The songs they sing and the claims they make are ones that make them appear as if they are living in some Disneyland fantasy; rather than soberly preparing for the events that are about to overtake the world.

      My concern is when they are awakened as reality finally shakes them out of their indifferent or lukewarm state, will they admit that God is after them? Will they repent of their indifference and be prepared to offer themselves up as a living sacrifice or will they remain in self-denial, causing their particular ship to be lost at sea?

      Johnny Come Lately Group: This group is often represented by the religious bigots. You might have met one or two of them along the way. You can always spot bigots by how small their religious worlds are and how big they have become in them. For example, these individuals know it all, are the final authority to all that is supposedly true, and judge all matters according to their “small” way of thinking. They are prideful about being immovable in their theology, mean-spirited towards those who dare to disagree with them, and will set out on a mission to shred apart anyone who will not submit to their way of thinking.

      Such individuals are out of step with reality. To them the only reality that counts is their take on it. When something is happening of any real significance, they fail to respond because they miss the bigger picture or they come late and miss any real opportunity to be effectively involved with what is significant. God is shaking all foundations and sounding the alarm through unlikely people. However, these individuals are like a soldier called to the war but who fails to show up at the right place. These unprepared individuals end up behind the lines, far away from the real battle. In an attempt to save face, these people look around for some cause and begin a war of their own that often wounds allies.

      In the end, such individuals end up standing unaccompanied to face the harsh reality that no one else is standing with them. They have rid themselves of any checks and balances that could bring reality and reason back into their small worlds so they could embrace a much greater, and more worthy perspective. Therefore, they alone will face an inevitable tidal wave of judgment because if they have not shot their allies, they have driven them away or left them wounded. Since their faith is based on their personal religious piousness and standards, and not in Jesus Christ, their foundation and structures will be crushed by the wave of judgment and reduced to sand.

      The Do Nothing Group: Even though the Christian Church is 20 centuries old, the members of it are not. The real Church of Jesus Christ must be constantly refreshed by each member being renewed daily in their inner man by the washing of God’s Word and the ever abiding presence and guidance of the Spirit of God. Such people are not to live off yesterday’s manna comprised of what was, but is now decayed, but they must daily seek their own manna. They must not be content to settle for man-made doctrines or traditions that may feed the mind to some extent, but have no real spiritual nutrition to inspire and sustain the spirit through times of testing. They are not to sit on their “past laurels” thinking they have it made because they are on their way to heaven.

      Jesus was clear that we are to watch, be ready and pray that we will be found worthy to escape the tribulation that is coming upon the face of the entire world. We must discipline ourselves and learn how to possess our souls in patience. To watch requires one to be aware concerning the hour, sober about his or her responsibility to detect, discern and sound the alarm when danger is near, and to be prepared and ready in an appropriate manner to take up arms, escape or flee if necessary to fight another day. We as believers must never be caught unaware because we are secluded in some type of religious bubble and drunk on the ways of the world, while thinking God is somehow going to spare us of the inevitable. The truth is He is trying to prepare us to respond to the inevitable. He is contending with some as He bursts their bubble to wake them up to the reality that their faith is about to be tested in the fiery ovens of tribulation.

      One of Jesus’ main concerns is that when He returns, will He find any real, genuine faith (Luke 18:8). When you consider these three groups, they lack unfeigned faith. For the Jonah’s they may believe God, but they have failed to put their faith in action by obeying Him. The second group has put their faith in their own theology, but not in the person or character of God. It is obvious that what they hold to is not God but their religious opinions. The last group puts their faith in their association to God rather than believing His Word. As a result, they end up putting God to a foolish test. To these people He could easily come like a thief in the night.

      As Christians, we must always walk according to the present light and not the fading glory of the past. We must not assume or presume all will be okay because as Christians we are in some bubble that immunizes us against the trials and tribulations taking place around us. God calls us to be prepared for what comes our way, not secluded in some religious indifference, world or bubble that keeps us unrealistic and unresponsive.

      What about you? Do you possess the true faith that will cause you to obey, enlarge your world to see the bigger picture and prepare you to face the inevitable? Be assured, unfeigned faith will always be tested, refined, enlarged, and brought forth by way of the fiery ovens of tribulation.