A Reflection for January 2018 by Richard Parrish
“I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace."” - Romans 11:1-5 (NRSV)
His questions were sincere. You could tell they were heartfelt concerns. It was apparent he had pondered them for a long time.
The waitress interrupted our conversation asking: “More coffee?” I thanked her, and she left our table to attend to other diners.
“I’m concerned that our current political climate is creating growing challenges for the church,” he said. “How will the church maintain its faith in a culture influenced by postmodernism? (Postmodernism is a philosophy that rejects absolute terms and boundaries, and contests the possibility of absolute truth.)
It’s not the first time I’ve heard questions like these from church leaders wrestling to guard and encourage the Christian faith in an increasingly post-Christian era. And, they continue to be asked by pastors, priests, church leaders and laity who are alarmed by the growing polarization between society and the Church.
There is a sincere concern from church leaders about the increasing pressure to undermine biblical authority. As one pastor shared with me:
“When I encourage my parishioners of why it is important to remain biblically faithful, they look at me as if I’m from another planet.”
Increasingly, the Church is pressured either to capitulate to the preference of postmodern culture or, to guard and encourage biblical fidelity.
It’s not a comfortable position for your pastor or those serving in church leadership. And, it’s a difficult place for any Christian who desires to remain faithful to God.
The growing influence of postmodernism is taking its toll. Those who see the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) as an ethical map, which directs our conduct and character, are frequently labeled as uninformed, unloving, and unyielding.
Far too many people (inside and outside the Church) are wounded, abused and alienated, by individuals who elevate an agenda above the dignity and value of humanity. Whether Christian or non-Christian, right wing or left wing, democrat, republican, libertarian, or independent: It must stop!
A biblical view demonstrates love for all. It also establishes boundaries for our benefit. I admit: There are times I would like to re-negotiate some of the Ten Commandments.
However, they are God’s commandments. The gracious promises of God’s covenant are realized through my obedience – whether I agree or not.
Finding resolve to remain biblically faithful is essential for Christians in a post-Christian era. It requires pastors, priests, and church leaders who will courageously proclaim God’s word as our moral compass in a foreign land.
Join me this year in praying for our shepherds/pastor/leaders.
Their task is not comfortable or convenient. In my conversations with these men and women who champion biblical fidelity, I see their loneliness.
The apostle Paul reflects upon Elijah, who is also familiar with the weight of responsibility to maintain faithfulness in an un-faithful society. His society was killing the prophets of God, and Elijah was on the run.
Discouraged, weary, and feeling deserted, Elijah acknowledges his plight: “I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” However, God enters Elijah’s loneliness and reminds him:
“I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. So too, at the present time, there is a remnant, chosen by grace.”
Thanks for being a part of the remnant!
● To what degree is my faith influenced by society?
● Do I honestly accept the Bible as my compass? Why? Why not?
● Are there areas in which my behavior needs to conform to God’s Word? What are they and what
keeps me from being obedient?