Even the most superficial of inspections into the state of Britain’s society reveals a growing darkness that is hard to ignore. To describe it is difficult if only because it is hard to know where to start. If we start at the top we find that the world of politics is fill of corruption, hypocrisy and a lack of conviction this is accompanied by a growing apathy and cynicism of the voting public faced with failing party after another. More so, the state still views itself as the solution to all of the problems of life as though it were some deity itself. Naturally, this is only going to end badly. In every sphere of society new corruption is coming to light, in sport, journalism, the military, NHS, etc
The problems this nation faces are very real. We live in an age of increasing individualism and a lessening of community; consumerism and materialism are rampant and the message still hasn’t hit home that more stuff can never equal more happiness; whole generations now define a good weekend by getting so drunk they can’t remember it; sex outside of marriage is now a norm not a shock; today’s culture is saturated in lust which is used to sell just about anything; child sacrifice is applauded as a mother’s ‘right’ to choose to abort her baby largely for reasons of ‘convenience’; homosexuality is becoming normalised and institutionalised but all these things, terrible though they might be, are nothing compared to the underlying problem.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’”
Matthew 15 v 19 – 20
The darkness in society at large is nothing more than the reflection of mankind’s dark hearts. Evil is called good because that is what we, as sinners, do. We refuse to accept the ultimate morality found in God and so define good and evil by what pleases us. This isn’t new, since the Fall this has always been the way. The hearts of all human beings are in darkness and society reflects that. Yet things are worse than they were, I think that is fair to say, no time in history is perfect but past times most certainly had higher standards than society today. To say that the darkness in this land is growing requires that is was once less dark than it is.
But if the heart of man in its basic state is darkness then that means there must be a source that is light. To put it another way, the problem with society is not that the capacity for evil of man has increased it is that his willingness to do so has increased. Man’s capacity for evil is unchanging but what changes is the force against that.
What changes is the church.
Already, many reading this would snigger, the church? what has the church got to do with anything? The church is dying, the church is on its last legs, the church is a spent force no longer relevant to the modern world, how can the troubles of society be solved by the church? Of course, this very reaction perfectly illustrates my point.
The problem with society is the low state of the church; it is precisely because the church is a declining force that such more is going wrong and evil abounds. The root cause of any problem in society is spiritual therefore the only solution to the root problem is spiritual. The redemption granted by Jesus Christ is for the whole of society.
So taking our inspection over to the church, the Bride of Christ, we see it in a poor state. Broadly, every church faces the problem of declining numbers, falling number of converts, falling impact into the community, increasing resistance to the gospel message, increasing money problems and even in the churches many people are spiritually asleep and largely apathetic to the cause and glory of Christ. The larger churches hide behind the number of people they have; the smaller churches start to die. Unity is sadly lacking with spilts occuring over increasing unimportant issues.
Error and heresy seem to be on the up and new believers are growing rarer. In times past people got worried when a week went by without a new conversion. But the gospel no longer seems to hold the power it once did. In the church and out people just aren’t being transformed by the gospel as they once were. And so society isn’t being transformed by the gospel either.
The bottom line is this: God isn’t blessing his church. When it comes to praying that God would work again in power then: “And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron.” (Deuteronomy 28v23) It can feel like God just isn’t listening.
But what really, really worries me is that so many churches and Christians just don’t seem to be aware that things are not what they should be. The gospel should be going out in power, we should be seeing it transforming many lives many times over, this has happened in the past, why isn’t it happening now? I wish I could scream it to the heavens: wake up! Things are not as they should be!
And even those who do grasp the low state of the church often give way to despair and doubt that anything will change. They are shackled by their misplaced theology and the idea that everything will just get worse and worse and worse until Christ comes again. They forget that the church of Christ is that rock, cut without human hands, that will grow and grow and grow until it fills the earth. The day is coming when the knowedlge of the glory of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. They forget about the singular power of the Lord GOd Almighty and his delight in working wonders.
For that is the important thing to remember: God can work wonders in our land. The mess that his Church and society is not somehow beyond or outside of his control. The God who in the past raised his church to such great heights can and I believe will do so again. For this evil in society is not a new evil but one which has always been in the hearts of man. And just as God has changed the hearts of all his people so that they believe in him so he can change the hearts of people today. The GOd of whom it is written: "he lifts his voice, the earth melts" (Psalm 46v6) is not one who cannot act in modern society.
For once, I don’t have a solution except to urge you all to wake up to the state the church is in and to earnestly and wholeheartedly seek God in prayer and plead that he would have mercy and bless his church for the sake of his great name. Please, do not let a day go by without praying for God to work wonders in this land we live in.
Cry out with the psalmist: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13)
Look out over this land and weep as Jesus wept over Jerusalem, take the despised name of God to heart and pray that his name would be glorfied in this land once more. I repeat what seems such an obvious point: things are not what they should be. The gospel is the power of God to save the lost and transform lives and if it is not working as it should then we need to turn to God and give him no rest until he answers our prayers and blesses his church again.
I beg of you, do not let this pass you by. Pray, oh how we need to pray that God would work. Remember that God is the Most High who inhabits eternity, the very great God and let us fall on our knees and pray for revival, pray for new life in his struggling church and for new mercy for this dark land.
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.’ And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him.”
Zechariah 8 v 20 - 22