Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Hold on. . .

How curious it is that some of the same folks who insist Patriarch Kirill is but an extension of Putin's government and power (which, of course, he is), are blind to their own captivity to the unfolding narrative of modernity with its rejection of Scripture in favor of some kind of generic love (and self-love, at that).  But we are always blind to the obvious.  Long ago Orthodoxy in Russia made some sort of mutual survival pact with whoever and whatever was the ruling power there.  It has somewhat seamlessly evolved from being an extension of Soviet spying and control of people to the embrace of the appearance of democratic Russia.  And the same thing is at work among those who cannot countenance what Scripture says about sex, gender, family, etc...  They have evolved as well, from those who once called simply for tolerance to those who have no tolerance for and the insistence upon using every force to prevent disagreement with the sacred principles of their progressive liberalism.

In the midst of all of this, the Christian listening to the voice of God's Word, confessing the creed, living in confession by word and deed, wonders if it matters.  With all the forces political and social and theological marshaled against them, can the orthodox Christian survive and does it matter?  Such despair is completely understandable but untenable.  It was never our domain to win the world or inhabit the halls of power or direct the kingdom to come through legislation or armies.  It was never the promise that we would win the debates over truth, morality, or purpose.  We have always been told with painful blunt address that we are pilgrims in an unfriendly world, that the devil will extract every cost he can while he can though the victory will never be his, and that those who bear the name of Christ are the minority walking on the narrow path and not the wide boulevard.  Lest we fear this is not enough, we are also promised with such wonderful assurance that he who endures to the end shall be saved.  This is the sphere in which we live and it is through this lens that we view the world and everything in it.  We are those in but not of the world, with citizenship in heaven while we wait here below in the strength of the Lord.

At the same time, such despair can also make us forget what we can do.  We may not be able to make a big splash for Jesus in the world but we are able to dedicate family and home to the Lord who has redeemed us with His blood.  We are able to mark every Lord's day with time together with the Lord around His Word and Table in His House.  We are able to touch the neighbor next door with unfeigned love that bears the burden of one in need even if we are not able to give justice or mercy to the entire world.  We are able to live honorable and upright lives, in the integrity of honest labor, commerce, and leisure that befits those who are named with God's name.  We are able to kneel in prayer on behalf of those nearest to us, the stranger in need, the Church in her mission, and those who serve us in His name.  We are able to make friends with the mammon of this world through the noble cause of tithes and offerings that support the work of God and use this for the neighbor in need and those within our care.  We are able to utilize the tools of where we live (i. e. democracy in the case of the US) to cast our support to those whose positions are more allies and less enemies of the truth.  We are able to lift our voice in song even in the midst of trouble and trial and demonstrate that peace is not the fruit of favorable circumstance but God's favor.  There are so many things we cannot do, we cannot change, and we feel powerless to affect but there are also many things we are able to do, to change, and can affect.  To lament the first without rejoicing in the second is a sure path to losing our faith and losing our way.  To rejoice first in what we can do while admitting what we cannot is a certain road to a contented heart even while the world simmers in evil around us.

Hold on.  Yes.  By all means.  Hold on.  But live it out with confidence and joy in the midst of all that would appear to be wrong.  And pass it on as well.  None of you and certainly not I was called by God to save the world, to change the view of the world toward the cross, or to plant heaven in the soil of our discontent.  Jesus will have to do that (and He has and will!).  But we can control what happens in our hearts and minds, we can pray, we can order our lives and the lives of our family by the Word of God and the worship of God's House.  We cannot make the world Christian but we can plant a foundation from the earliest days of our children's lives and train them up in it.  Rather than raise our hands in surrender to an apostate church or an evil world, we can pray that Christ will continue to remain faithful while the world and even those who claim to be His Church are not. It is not that we had the world and screwed it up and the devil took it back. The world was never ours. It remains the domain in which the devil lurks with a roar to plant fear and a hunger for those who belong to Christ. But we shall endure. Defeat and death have no power over us. Once we begin to admit this along with the things we don't want to admit, we will not simply feel better; we will be set free to do and be the people God has called us to be.

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