It’s raining outside, in my little corner of our great big world. The wind is howling. The leaves are everywhere. It’s that time of year. As I sit in my window, I can’t help but notice one tall tree in the corner of our yard that refuses to yield to the wind and the rain. All the other trees are bare now, but this one, this one stands defiant in the face of what is bound to be a losing fight with nature.
Most of the yellow leaves on the giant maple are hanging on for dear life now, trying to delay the inevitable. One day soon, they won’t be able to hang on anymore and they’ll give up, falling to the earth in an endless cycle that will repeat itself again this time next year.
As the rain continues to fall, my eyes are drawn upward to the enormous, rhythmic sway of the tallest trees. It’s unsettling. Many of the big trees on our three acres fell last year as the rain soaked ground loosened their fragile root systems. The forest can be unforgiving. They didn’t have a choice but to fall under relentless downpours. Years of erosion took their toll as the mighty trees buckled and fell, taking smaller trees with them.
Trees with shallow root systems don’t survive very many winters. They can’t. Even big trees, no—especially the big ones—need strong, deep roots. Without them, it’s only a matter of time.
We’re not so unlike those trees. If we’re going to survive the storms of this life, we need strong, deep roots, too. But as I listen to the news and see the barrage of cyber-bullets flying back and forth between people who should know better, I can’t help but sense that the trees in my back yard are not the only things with fragile, shallow root systems in the late autumn of 2015.
The church’s roots are shallow, and the storms around us have unearthed a problem that, if left untreated, threatens to undo us from the inside-out. Years of relentless spiritual downpours have left us weak and vulnerable. Rather than shore up our root systems with the truth of God’s Word, we have given ground away to the erosion of culture, tossing aside ages of time-honored truths that we have stood on as a people for generations. Many of our tallest “trees” have fallen victim to the downpour of secular progressivism that has laid waste to our churches in recent years. Like you, I have watched as many pastors and other Christian leaders have exchanged the truth of the Gospel for a “more convenient” truth.
It is the perfect storm. Weak church… weak nation. We are a nation in spiritual crisis, and our weakness is providing the perfect storm for evil to spread.
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” Ephesians 5:16-17
We must be careful, because as the Apostle Paul warned, the days are evil. ISIS has found a soft target in Christians today. We are a biblically illiterate generation, profoundly weak in our knowledge of the almighty and His Word. We’ve forgotten who God says we are supposed to be: holy, set apart. And so, instead of falling to our knees in anguish over our sin and admitting our need for divine answers, we’re doubling-down on made-up theology that portrays Jesus and His great love for mankind in two extremes: passive and foolish or selfish and uncaring about human suffering.
In the wake of last week’s awful terrorist attacks, instead of turning to God, we’re turning on each other. If ISIS ever had a golden opportunity to strike at the heart of God’s people, now would be that time.
Today, on social media, for all the world to see, God’s people are fighting over which kind of compassion is more “right” … the kind that says “protect the innocent here” or the kind that says “protect the innocent there.” Every Christian with an opinion and a Bible seems set on hurling verses at other Christians. Social media is on fire. Mocking images flood our screens and numb our senses and what are we doing? We are reacting in our flesh. Me included.
We are being driven by anger and fear, and it’s exactly what the enemy wants. Yes. The enemy. Satan. He knows exactly what he’s doing and we better wake up and pay attention. The war we are in is a spiritual one. ISIS is not our enemy. ISIS is a tool of our enemy. Nothing more, nothing less.
Now is not the time to lob Bible verses at each other over a virtual fence! Now is the time to hit the floor on our knees. Collectively. This is war—and every person who claims the name of Jesus is enlisted in it. We need to come to the table together, first in prayer and then with resolve to act how God wants us to act. How will we know what that is if we do not pray for wisdom? Oh, how we need wisdom for these times we are living in. Human wisdom simply will not do. The wisdom we need can come from no place other than from God Himself.
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” James 1:5
We need every Christian writer, pastor, teacher, parent, journalist and thought leader to come together in solidarity against the evil that is waging war at this moment against us. Our conversations must extend far beyond the fear that drives us.
We must seek the Spirit.
Now is the time to sink our root systems deep into the rich soil of the Word of God. Now is the time for unity—and the kind of unity we need is supernatural. We must not give in to fear and anger. We must beg God for His wisdom. A generation hangs in the balance.
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[d] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.”