Don’t Let These Confusing Times Confuse You
Having not lived in all times I dare not say that the confusion of these days is worse than it has ever been, nor even that these recent days are more confusing than any other time in my short life. Let it be enough for you to understand that you are living in confusing times. We might even say that these times only seem confusing in this current age, and that it’s only a different sort of confusion than that which was prevalent when I was a child in the 60’s. During those days, you see, the confusion may have been hidden because almost everyone in the community I grew up in went to church somewhere, and the standards of the church and the community were fairly compatible. So even those who didn’t consider themselves Christians still submitted themselves to some degree, at least outwardly, to the community’s standards. As long as the community standards and God’s standards were not in conflict in any substantial way, one could easily attend church and live a moral life without actually being born again, and no one, perhaps not even the poor unsaved soul, knew any better.
The wickedness that has overtaken this land has changed all of that. Community life is different now because it prides itself in being contrary to what God teaches. The Bible verse, “the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it,” ( Matt 7:14) made no sense when I was a child. Very few people openly rejected the Bible’s teaching, and in fact, most professed Christianity and went to church on Sundays. If there was a small gate, or so it seemed at the time in the region in which I was reared, it was for those who openly defied God. In this day, while many, but probably not most, still go to church on Sunday, many of those church attendees do not fear God and they reject what the Bible teaches. Research shows that about half of even the preachers reject what the Bible clearly teaches on some level.
On the other hand, in many ways, the way is clearer now. When I was a child a person made a pilgrimage up to the front of the church and prayed to ask Jesus in his heart and was from then on considered “saved” regardless of how wickedly he would eventually live his life. I was one of those. This brought confusion because salvation was a man-made formula, a ritual really, that was followed in order to receive salvation. After the ritual, one was pronounced “Christian” by the preacher, and that was that. One could live and think any way they wanted and was assured that God loved them and was obliged to spare them from His wrath because of something they did at a church one day in their distant past. The community’s standards that were present during my youth did serve to restrain our behavior, so we generally did attempt to live outwardly and vaguely in a way that we thought Jesus taught us to live.
Little did I know then that I was actually living through a great social shift. My small hometown was not spared these shifts in mindsets nor in attitudes. By the time I was a teenager my community’s standards had changed radically. Divorce was acceptable and rampant, killing babies became legal and shame died. It became clear to me by the time I was 20 that these increasingly unbiblical community standards had become my guide in life also. As the community drifted toward increased wickedness, I drifted with it. Eventually, I admitted to myself that I really wasn’t a Christian after all. Had the community’s standards not changed, you see, I may not have ever realized that the community was my true guide and not God. See? Confusion.
I, of course, was not alone. As Jesus plainly said that most would not find the narrow gate, the vast majority of the “christian” society around me would eventually prove itself to be on the wide path and headed toward ever more wickedness and the rejection of God.
I am here quick to remind you that many who desired the community’s new morality still sought to hold onto their religion. As time passed this desire became obvious as the world witnessed entire denominations begin their embrace of what God clearly says is wrong. These denominations are, to this day, crumbling and reflecting well the huge shifts that were taking place below the surface a half-century ago.
But as for me, back while I was living as a non-Christian, I thought following the world and trying to make religion fit my own ideas of right and wrong was a little hypocritical. There were many who would live like me Monday through Saturday and then would go to church on Sunday. They would teach their Sunday school classes and sing in the choir, all the while living a life in total rebellion against what they supposedly taught and sang about. I never really paid much attention to them. But every once in a while I would meet someone who really believed the words of Jesus, and it was obvious. They were different.
An example of what I’m talking about took place during your own childhoods. When President Obama was running for president, he said that he was a Christian and that he considered marriage to be between one man and one woman. Nobody really took him seriously when he said it though. But then another man, Truett Cathy, the owner of Chick-fil-A, mentioned that he believed the exact same thing and those who loved Obama and had no problem with what he said, were now very upset with Cathy. As it turns out, those who loved President Obama were not at all confused about who he really was, nor who Truett Cathy was.
You yourselves must decide whether you are going to follow what society calls right and wrong, or whether you will follow what God calls right and wrong. You will live one way or the other and your lives will bear out your true beliefs. The one way will lead you into a life in which God is your enemy, the other into a life in which you will be ridiculed and hated by your culture. One way will lead to life eternal, and the other to death. It is my prayer that you will choose life eternal, a life with purpose and meaning beyond your carnal cravings, and a life worth living.