Almost every day, news comes across the T.V. of some new injustice or atrocity that has been committed. We ask ourselves the question, "How could someone do something like that?"
Increasingly, our world is diving deeper into the garbage dump of human behavior. According to 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul describes how people will behave in the time before our Lord Jesus Christ returns: "But understand this, that in the last days, there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power. Avoid such people." This sums it up quite well.
This letter was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the Apostle Paul between 64 and 68 A.D. So how did he know how people would behave in the 21st Century? The answer to this is easy. We are all afflicted with a sin nature which has been passed down to us from Adam. Any one of us is capable of all the terrible descriptions given by Paul in the verses above. Romans 3:23 tells us: "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Only by the grace and blood of Jesus Christ are we able to have a new nature and heart when we give our lives to Him. This is reason to praise and thank God that we have been delivered. However, we do walk in this world and Paul's final words of this passage ring true today: "Avoid such people." To put it a different way, the Apostle is telling us to avoid keeping regular company with those who practice this kind of lifestyle. Still, we are to be a witness to all around us by living a godly life pleasing to the Lord. That is a difficult task isn't it?
In fact, Paul goes on in verse 12 of chapter 3 to write this instruction: "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." Seems unfair to us that those who practice a life contrary to God's Word seem to have all the money, good luck, and power. Still, we must think about our brief life here on earth's stage compared to eternity with our Lord. The evil will not always prosper. There will come a day when the Lord will judge the hearts of all men and the fulfillment of Psalm 37:9-11 will come to pass: "For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace." We might ask, until that day, what should we do?
Our Lord called us to be salt and light in this world (Matthew 5:13-16). Even though it may seem we are swimming upstream against the culture, we must persevere in sharing the Good News and living it before all men. We will not win all, but God has called us to be His ambassadors. Persecution will come when we refuse to bow to the whims of the worldly culture, but our rewards in heaven far outweigh anything this world can offer.
Instead of bemoaning the decline we see and asking how people could act like they do, we need to be willing to share the truth of Christ both in season and out of season as Paul instructs us to do (2 Timothy 4:2). Our job is to serve Christ by serving others. Being counter culture is not an easy job, but the benefits of living our faith will last for eternity. Therefore we should not be surprised by the things we see or read about. Instead, let us take up the Lord's banner and proclaim His death and resurrection until He returns. This is the only thing that will bring real change into the hearts of men. Selah!
Photograph courtesy of Aaron Thayer