“There is a tide in the affairs of men, a nick of time. We perceive it now before us. To hesitate is to consent to our own slavery. He that will not respond is unworthy the name of a free man.”
Those were the words of Rev. John Witherspoon, one of signers of the Declaration of Independence as he placed his signature on our nations birth certificate. A tide in the affairs of men. A moment that one experiences that is unlike any other in their lifetimes. What one does with that one moment may well define their entire lives.
It may be that we all find ourselves living today in one of those very moments. Think with me to all that has transpired in just three weeks. Our minds were on spring cleaning and yardwork, summer vacation plans and a host of things that we haven’t even thought of since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Social distancing, N-95 masks, home schooling and the stock markets latest adjustments has now become the background noise of our lives. With all that considered, let me give you some really good news!
Last week, I was honored to be on a conference call with a few hundred pastors from around America. The call was hosted by the organization that I serve, The Family Research Council, and the call was led by FRC’s president, Tony Perkins. On the call was the president, Donald Trump. He shared confidently of America’s resolve and courage and before we prayed over him he asked that we pray for the health and strength of America. The vice president, Mike Pence, then shared an update and encouraged each of us not to fear, but to be vigilant, to be inspiring and impactful as we lead our churches.
Before he finished, the vice president shared something he had heard his pastor from Indiana say in the live broadcast he and Mrs. Pence watched from home the past Sunday. His pastor said, “The Gospel was made for times like these!” I love that! Is that not the greatest thing you’ve heard in a few days! Oh, I knew it to be true, just like most of you. But to hear it said, to hear the vice president of the United States say it... what a blessing!
He believes it, I believe it and the church in America believes it. Now we just have to live it! And let me tell you, the church is doing just that! Everywhere I turn, godly pastors and congregations are reaching out like never before with the love and compassion of Jesus.
From online services reaching more than three times the normal church audience to pastors preaching from platforms in their filled to capacity parking lots full of people in cars. From creative ways churches are feeding school kids who are out of school to drive by praying opportunities springing up throughout the country.
Yes, The Gospel was made for times like these. The message of Jesus is more than that of a friend who helps us to happiness and self-fulfillment. As Eugene Peterson once said, “It is not difficult in such a world to get a person interested in the message of the gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for the long apprenticeship in what earlier generations called holiness.”
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to a group of Christ followers in Philippi and this is what he said: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
Paul knew what is was to stand strong in times of difficulty, and so must we!
Martin Luther, before turning himself in, after being warned by his friends not to do so said, “you ask me what I shall do if I am called by the emperor. I will go even if I am too sick to stand on my feet. If Caesar calls me, God calls me. If violence is used, as well it may be, I commend my cause to God. He lives and reigns who saved the three youths from the fiery furnace of the king of Babylon, and if He will not save me, my head is worth nothing compared with Christ. This is no time to think of safety I must take care that the gospel is not brought into contempt by our fear to confess and seal our teaching with our blood.”
Hear me clearly... The Gospel was made for times like these, and so are we!
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council, who writes a weekly column published in The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.