How are we, as followers of Jesus, to live in a cultural setting that is swiftly becoming quite hostile to Jesus. When times become ominous, people often respond by hiding and thinking only about self-preservation. This is part of the great attractiveness of the “prepper” mentality, as they stockpile food, weapons, water and whatever they believe will give them a measure of safety and security. And while we understand that the wise man sees danger and is careful to avoid it if possible (Prov. 27:12) and that there is wisdom in preparing for the “winter season” (Prov. 6:6-11), the Lord Jesus has put us in this culture for such a time as this. We are here to represent Him and not hide in a bunker, physical or mental.
What we know. First, all that we need for living a God-pleasing life, in any cultural setting, has been given to us in the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:3). Nothing we face or experience is not, in some way, dealt with in the Scriptures. So, we have all the truth we need. It is true, of course, that the Holy Spirit has been given to each of us and He enlightens, directs and empowers us to live well for the Lord Jesus. The Apostles of the Lord lived all of their ministry lives in hostile environments; first among the Jews and then among the Romans. And so, they write the scriptures guided by the Spirit, but also from personal experience with a hostile cultural setting.
Second, we know how all of this will eventually end. Biblical prophecy is designed to aid us in living better right now. Prophecy does not stutter or stammer when it tells us that the Lord God is sovereign over the men and nations of this world, and that He is neither impressed nor intimidated by their rantings and threats. (We discussed this in last month’s study of Psalm 2, “And God Laughs”). His plans for the future will bring great salvation (Rev. 7) to mankind along with great judgment (Rev. 6, 8, 9, 16). The chances of all these prophecies being fulfilled are 100%. Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet and all their minions will not thwart or delay by one minute, God’s executing perfectly His divine will. The appearing of our Lord Jesus remains our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) and the Father’s plan of installing King Jesus over the coming, glorious kingdom remains a certainty. These truths are designed to strengthen our inner person by reminding us of the ultimate outcome of world events. They strengthen us in order that we might live confidently, and even boldly, in a cultural setting where God’s standards are viewed with utmost contempt and the idea that God (if there is one) has any relevance.
Third, we are to actively represent our great God in this world. Jesus reminds His followers, (in Matt. 5:16) that we are to shine as lights in the world, and by so doing, bring honor to Him. We are not to hide the light by putting it under a basket (or in a bunker). Most of us don’t think we are that great or important, so that it will not make much of a difference what we do. But, throughout the Bible we have accounts of how God made significant impact in situations by using just one individual (and often one that was not in a position of power or authority). We are here at this time to be used by Him among our family, friends, fellow believers and the acquaintances that we come across. He has people and situations that He wants us to influence and, therefore, to represent the Lord Jesus. Remember, we are never called upon to be famous, only faithful. And it is likely that our being faithful will take place outside the bunker. Paul’s exhortation to believers 1900 years ago is just as vital today. In Ephesians 5:11-17 (ESV):
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light….Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Fourth, in connection with the above, we need to remember the fact that even those who are vehemently opposed to the Lord and His standards are, nevertheless, in desperate need of His saving grace. The Apostle Paul was motivated by this reality of people’s true condition and not by what they try and project (2 Cor. 5:16). They need a Savior. And, as it turns out, we remain the only ones who can tell people that the Lord loves them and has provided eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. So we need to remind ourselves that we are Christians first and Americans second. And as Christians, Jesus has given us the task of sharing the good news (Matt. 28:19-20).
Fifth, we must be ready to obey God first, and then to obey government. This might prove to be an area where we need to wisely apply biblical truth. There might come situations where we must decide to obey God rather than men. Every now and then the early church had to do so (Acts 4:19-20) and our current climate may bring believers once again to that place mentioned by the Apostles. Christ, not Caesar, gives the Church its marching orders.
Sixth, Jesus was crystal clear that when we identify with Him, the world (Satan’s system) will hate us for it (John 15:18-20; 17:11, 15-16). So hostility from this culture is to be expected. But if this experience does arise in our lives, we will never be abandoned by the Lord and, therefore, we are not to live in fear. (Heb. 13:5b-6). The spirit of fear, which often leads to the “bunker mentality” is not to be true of us. Paul, living in the hostility of his age, said that “God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7).
What we don’t know. First, we don’t know how the current cultural collapse in America will play out in the coming days. Will it continue or accelerate? Will it be hindered by the Church coming alive? At this point, we don’t know what the November, 2020 election will produce. We are informed, however, by Daniel that God sets up and removes leaders according to His plans and purposes (Dan. 2:21). So no amount of money spent, shady politics, lies or deceptions will change what God is going to do. Pray we may and must. God is sovereign in these matters but He does factor in the prayers of His people. Ultimately, our trust lies in Jesus and not in a person or a party.
Second, obviously we do not know when the Lord Jesus will come and take His Church to be with Himself and thus trigger the events of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:36; 1 Thess. 4:13-17). There are no necessary events or signs which must take place before the end time events unfold. His return truly is an imminent one, and we are to keep one eye on the heavens. And, in spite of those who annually predict the rapture in connection with the fall Jewish feasts, we simply do not know when the Lord Jesus is coming for us. But once He does come, the world will be faced with supernaturalism of an unbelievable nature and extent.
So to each of us, the Lord has put us in this time to represent Him, and to wisely do so in what is clearly an evil age where increasingly good is called evil, and evil is designated as good. In the bunker? Get out. The Lord will direct our paths.