‘Jesus, with your church abide’

For centuries Christians could live their lives never having traveled far from home, and could be unaware of events farther afield. Our world is exponentially bigger, even while global communication has made it shrink. Our forbearers faced serious hardships, but did they feel the weight of the world as it now presses on us?

There’s much upheaval – social, moral, political, philosophical – in our fallen world, and the screws are tightening on those of us who are followers of Christ. I didn’t include “religious” in the previous sentence because at heart it’s all religious. “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters,” Jesus tells the Pharisees, who believed they were on God’s side (Matt. 12:30). Tragically, the majority of the 7.2 billion people alive today are against Christ. “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Jesus asserts (Matt. 7:13).

Going out into “all the world” and preaching the gospel is as crucial as it’s ever been. With each passing day we come closer to Christ’s return. Satan knows his time is running out. He is using both more subtle and more vicious methods to win as many battles as he can in the war he realizes Christ has already won.

I’m writing this just after Canada and the U.S. celebrated Canada Day and Independence Day respectively, and just after court decisions in each country revealed that freedom of religion can no longer be taken for granted. We Christians appear (in both countries, though manifested somewhat differently in each) to be at a crossroads. Gone is the cultural Christianity that has been evident for so long.

Preaching Christ
Clearly we aren’t persecuted in the manner many of our fellow Christians around the world are. Few, if any, of us ever think about possibly dying for our faith. But Jesus says if we are faithful we will suffer: economically, as some already are, and in an increasing loss of freedom to live out our faith, to speak freely about it, and even to freely quote and preach from the Bible. Nominal Christians are already falling by the wayside. We who say we truly follow Christ may be forced, in the not distant future, to prove that we love God above all and that we will “obey God rather than man.”

God holds the nations in his hands. He “reigns over the nations” and “the kings of the earth belong to God” (Ps. 47:8). He removes rulers/governments and sets them up (Dan.2:21). And he will – and already does – judge nations, as he does individuals, who continually flout him (Ps. 110, Micah 4). But God also hears the prayers of his saints in those nations, prayers for perseverance in the midst of opposition, prayers that we will be worthy witnesses to the gospel, prayers for the Spirit to work repentance in our leaders and fellow citizens, prayers for mercy and averted judgment.

Cloistering ourselves from Satan’s increasing fury isn’t an option. We must acknowledge Christ before others if we expect him to acknowledge us before his Father. If we strive to love God ever more with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, then we must also remember what comes after that: “And your neighbour as yourself.” If we truly love our neighbours – wherever in the world they live – we will yearn to introduce them to the Saviour of the world, preaching Christ in words and actions, so that they may walk through that narrow gate that leads to life.

Author

  • Marian Van Til is a former CC editor who lived in Canada from 1975-2000. She now freelances for journals and writes books. Marian is also a classical musician and the music director at a Lutheran Church. She and her husband, Ed Cassidy, live in Youngstown, NY.

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