Benham Brothers | October 31, 2016
(BarbWire) – America is changing fast, not from Christian to secular but from secular to pagan.
Just listening to sound bites from our two candidates for president reveals a much steeper decline than many realized. Whether it’s Trump saying he likes to grope women or Hillary defending the dismemberment of third-trimester unborn children, these candidates are a reflection of all of us, because “We the People” put them there.
But there’s hope. There always is – because Jesus is still on the throne of heaven, and His Church is still alive on the earth.
The last few weeks we’ve talked about how early Christians flipped the Roman world “right-side up” despite incredible odds against them. And, as the odds turn against faithful Christians in our nation today, it’s important we look back and glean from the faithful before us – because we’re in a spiritual battle in this generation like never before.
Early believers were unique in three specific ways: They remained separate from the world, shared unconditional love for others and possessed a childlike surrender to the teachings of Jesus.
We’ve already discussed the first two characteristics in previous columns (See “How Christians can transform the world” and “Secret to flipping America ‘right-side up’”) – now we’re talking about total surrender to Jesus’ teachings.
Christians in the early church didn’t just “go” to church – they knew they “were” the church. Faith in Christ meant living it out every day wherever they went. The idea of listening to the Word on Sunday and ignoring it on Monday was foreign to them. They were fully surrendered to Christ’s teachings at all times and in every place – and it cost them.
Clement of Rome (a first-century church father) said, “A person who does not do what God has commanded shows he does not really believe God.”
For his faithfulness to Christ’s teachings, Clement was martyred. It’s believed he was cast into the sea with an anchor tied to his foot.
The Apostle John wrote, “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person” (1 John 2:4).
John was boiled in a vat of oil because he lived in accordance with the teachings of Christ.
But these brothers, and countless more like them, had an eternal perspective that transcended this world, and nothing – no amount of political pressure, fear or intimidation – could sway them from complete surrender to the teachings of Jesus.
Even when the Roman government demanded worship of the emperor, believers rejected the decree and continued to acknowledge Jesus only as sovereign Lord.
Although immorality and perversion were rampant throughout the empire, Christians continued to surrender their fleshly desires to the teachings of Christ, refusing to blend their moral convictions with the trends of culture.
When severe sickness struck the Eastern world – during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (165 AD) – and wiped out nearly a third of Rome’s population, it was Christians who stepped in and cared for the sick, broken and needy.
It was total surrender.
Today in America we don’t have an emperor, but we do have an oppressive state that demands faithful Christians bow to a godless, sexual revolution. Under penalty of law, believers are being forced to submit.
We have the same immorality and perversion as Christians faced in Rome – even more so as gender is being redefined for the first time in human history – and yet they remained distinctly separate in duty and doctrine. Our surrender to Christ must look the same.
And nearly 60 million unborn children have been abandoned, broken and left dead in the ditches of our nation through abortion. Faithful believers today have the responsibility –and honor – to surrender fame, fortune and friends to care for the most needy and innocent among us.
The same spiritual battles Christians faced then are alive and well now – they’re just different gloves covering the same demonic fist.
So if we’re tempted on any of these levels to submit to the cultural pressures today, let’s check ourselves and fully surrender to God like Clement of Rome, John the Apostle and countless others who have gone before us.
Total surrender is the only way for Christians to flip America “right-side up” like the early church flipped Rome. Christ’s teachings command that we do so:
“Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it” (Matthew 16:24).
First published at WND