Let’s be honest: things can seem pretty grim at times. This world can look pretty bad.
The list of horrors goes on and on…
At home and abroad, on literal and cultural battlefields of major import, minor import, and all levels in between, things seem to only be going from bad to worse.
We face wars, more wars, plagues, wicked leaders, wicked culture, totalitarian Statism on the march, the mass murder of children and innocents by the tens of millions, an unbiblical economic foundation designed to empower elites while enslaving the masses, celebration of sexual perversion, open assault on the concept of family, open dismissal of the concept of gender identity, the obliteration of individual liberty (for the masses; not for the elites), the elimination of individual privacy (for the masses; not for the elites), and what seems like the perpetually increasing destabilization of every area of life and civilization.
And that’s just in America.
So yeah, it’s easy to see why people get bummed.
With that duly noted, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the vast majority of professing Christians in America are more inclined than ever to build their worldviews (and therefore their lives) around a radically pessimistic eschatology (study of end time history-to-come). The entrenchment and proliferation of Left Behind-style views on prophecy and the nature of the future has played a major role in crafting the apathetic, lazy, disengaged and pessimistic brand of “Christianity” that has come to define (and preemptively surrender) most of American culture.
Ironically, this approach to prophecy, worldview and life in general has become something like the ultimate self-fulfilling bad prophecy.
The expectation of defeat after defeat throughout the culture has greatly aided in producing…you guessed it!…the actual defeat or retreat of “the good guys” on battlefield after battlefield in realm after realm of life, culture and civilization. The “Christian”-promoted myth of the inevitable victory of the enemies of Christ on His earth has been the greatest single tool of those enemies in securing and maintaining what territorial gains they have temporarily managed to claim.
Along the way – and after generations of such foolishness – we’ve cultivated an army of proudly pious and intensely apathetic doormat ” American Christians” who are not so much an army of Christ consecrated to “wage the good warfare” against His enemies, but are much more like an escort service seeking the affection of those enemies by thinking, saying, and doing whatever those enemies tell them to think, say or do.
It is into this context that we have been called and equipped to bring to the smoldering American cultural battlefield a great weapon – a weapon cherished and used with great results by those who first came to this land and settled it to the glory of King Jesus in the wake of the Reformation: Biblical optimism. An optimistic eschatology. A belief in Christ’s actual victory throughout His creation in time through His use of His people to take forth His Gospel-fueled Great Commission, all by His grace, for His glory, and to the eternal benefit of His people. See the theme there…(hint: It’s all about Him).
I know how weird that has to sound to most reading this who are coming from what has become the standard default “Christian” understanding in America. I know because I was once deeply in that camp. I once thought the likes of Left Behind and Hal Lindsey were solid. I once thought that anything contrary to the pessimistic dispensational rapture view that first took hold in ‘Merica around 150 years ago was not only wrong, but probably not even Christian. That’s how ignorant of Scripture and Church history I was.
But God was gracious with me as He is gracious with so many.
He is purposefully gracious toward His people in ways that we cannot even begin to comprehend on this side of eternity, but one way in which we can begin to comprehend His purposes – and begin to consciously strive to act in accordance with those purposes – is to study and embrace His Gospel-fueled Great Commission:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:18-20
One nifty way of driving home the beautiful truth of Christ’s restoration of all things through His Gospel and Great Commission is this video representation of the spread of the Gospel in history:
Obviously, this is a man-made work and it is therefore not meant here to be presented as a perfect work, but it is very helpful and, I think, quite inspiring nonetheless. This video and the detailed map that it accompanies (a very cool 24″x36″ timeline/map combo) was made by friends of mine from church. (You can see much more about the map and order it from Western Conservatory by clicking here.)
I hope that the video will nudge you in a good, productive, and decidedly optimistic direction when it comes to the power of the Gospel-fueled Great Commission to transform all that it touches.
Don’t let the wars, plagues and Biebers of the world get ya down.
Don’t be apathetic.
Don’t be lazy.
Don’t throw up your arms pretending that the details of life don’t really matter and just “ride it out” ’til “the rapture”. (See: Christianity in a Box: Containing the Contagion of Obedience to Christ.)
Instead: Fight the good fight.
Instead: Take every thought captive – every artistic, scientific, linguistic, economic, business and political thought – to Christ the King. (See: The Awesome Gospel.)
Instead: Do everything that you have been equipped to do in order to make disciples of all people in all nations – beginning in your own home – who ceaselessly strive to obey all that Christ the King has commanded.
That is how we will, by God’s grace, win what the world and worldly tell us are “unwinnable” battles. (See: The devil only holds what we leave in his hands.)
That is how we will, for God’s glory, save what the world and worldly tell us is an “unsavable” creation…one supernatural salvation and grace-fueled act of obedience at a time. (See: Roaring into Post-America Christianity.)
So don’t cry.
Don’t whimper or whine.
Man up, buttercup. Rome wasn’t conquered in a day.
By Scot Alan Buss