I suspect we would all agree that no political campaign in recent history has incited more dialogue, denunciation, false news, real news, insulting rages, horrible feuding, bold oratory and occasionally some powerful and commanding rhetoric. Laying aside political opinion, it is obvious that despite the ugliness of the debates and the constant barrage of negative news reporting, the nation, nevertheless, was fully engaged. Coffee shops, talk shows, universities, offices, family gatherings, and even churches provided lively venues for endless dialogue. The result? American voters responded. And a political revolution exploded into the history books.
The issues, although still in a state of fluidity, are at the very least being submitted to debate and dialogue by large numbers of people, both on the left and right. This dialogue is illuminating America’s ugly sins and weaknesses. Yet, in some ways, it is also revealing the glorious hope for this country’s future. We are rediscovering what’s important, the things that matter.
Christians should learn from our culture’s present example. Dialogue matters. Preaching the Bible under the anointing of the Holy Spirit reveals the conflicts caused by sin. It turns the world toward the truth. It strengthens the vision and joy of the church. It calls home backsliders. It gives peace and hope to the hearts and minds of God’s beloved humanity. Jesus commanded His disciples to go and preach. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). I suspect Jesus gave this command because it works. It’s His chosen method.
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). Herein lies an important issue, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). We can shake the world again — ‘preach.’ Jerry Jones, our beloved General Secretary, got it right in his new book entitled We Preach.
“It’s easy to forget,” as James Herrick, Hope College professor, mentioned recently in his discussion concerning the massive negative impact that the Internet is having on our children, “that students today inhabit a ‘phantasmagoric’ theater of afrenetic-media images, raw emotion, and powerful appeals that undermine the ‘self,’ to make a sale.”
The more one looks into Herrick’s warning the more one understands the monumental significance it plays concerning the darkness of this “present world.” The word phantasmagoric references the images of horror, religious mysteries, animalism, violent rituals and such, as is common to the cyber world, video games, television and movies, that dominates minds and lives, especially of children. Once exposed, young minds carry these images, messages, thoughts, suggestions, challenges and inducements in their heads and hearts constantly, every day. These strong and influential images shape a child’s thinking and personality. It is not good. The consequences are destroying the innocence and happiness of our children. Many are enticed into alternate personalities or extreme characterizations.
Psychologist Michael Seto states, “We are living through the largest unregulated social experiment of all time. A generation of youth who have been exposed to extreme content online, we are facing serious ‘socio-technological implications.’” In London, 200 teachers, psychiatrists, neuroscientists and other experts signed a paper expressing alarm over the “erosion of childhood” (The Daily Telegraph).
Either we preach in order to challenge the darkness of this world or we lose. The Prophets and the Apostles were protagonists against humanism. God’s carved stones given to Moses were a direct challenge to the status quo. Our generation must understand that there is no compatible compromise with the world’s philosophies. Trying to adapt the manners, techniques, and/or methods of this world, or worse, the false manner and methods of charismatic charlatans into the structure of an Apostolic church is a foolish endeavor — the very opposite of the Apostles’ foundation.
An Apostolic church is the one place we should expect the believers to be overcoming these matters. It’s possible, of course. Preach the word — it transforms sorrow into joy, it strengthens the weak, it expels darkness from the mind. Confront and address the false hopes and false religions that are overwhelming the world. May we forever exalt Godly living as a lifestyle of joy and peace, deny the overt juvenilization of church services, and call our youth to greatness in Christ.