Reckless and Hopeless

From Pressing On Magazine, March 2021

The Recklessness And Hopelessness

of Trying To Write The Future

{An article has recently circulated through social media, sourced as either “unknown author” or “from The Firm Foundation in a church bulletin dated Sept. 25, 1983.” It begins “It is sometime in the future.” Believing in authentic sourcing and the value of context, here is the piece that is circulating, follow by my observations, as requested by the Editor of Pressing On.}

Reprinted from Firm Foundation in a church bulletin dated September 25, 1983:

“It is sometime in the future. It could be as much as fifty years from now, or it could be less than ten. You are huddled with a small group in a ramshackle building, and it is very cold. There are no stoves in the building, so everyone is wearing heavy coats. There are no lights either and the day is cloudy enough that the dim, gray light barely illuminates the room. You are present at a worship service of the future.

“Earlier, you had all sung a few hymns very softly so that no one outside could hear. Several prayers had been uttered and you had partaken of communion consisting of homemade bread served out of a kitchen dish and sour grape juice in a coffee cup. You had gathered one by one so that no one would suspect that a worship service was beginning and inform the authorities because, you see, religion is against the law…

“All too soon, the services are over and you sit there dreading the remaining hectic week as you wait your turn to leave. While you wait, you think back over the years to your childhood. You can remember when everyone came to assemblies together — unafraid. You can remember when there were church buildings with real pews, lights and air-conditioning and heat. You can even remember when everyone sang and prayed and preached as they wanted to. You can especially recall that part of the prayer where someone would say, “We thank thee Father that we live in this free country where we can gather together for worship without fear of molestation.” Oh, how those words come ringing back!

“How did it happen? Well, it happened a long time ago when this country was still free. People began to take for granted their prosperity and freedom. Morals began to decline. Modesty disappeared. Nobody every really protested! People began losing their interest in spiritual matters. They lost their concern for the souls of the lost. And then, they lost concern for their own souls. They quit attending services — and then they quit altogether. The whole nation seemed to be going crazy. People were doing just exactly what they wanted to, no matter how evil or sinful. There were riots. A mob even burned the church building.

“Then one day it happened. No bombs fell, and no shots were fired. Early one morning, soldiers in strange uniforms simply marched into your town. The church had been swept along with the tide of the times. Christians had failed to make a stand. Religion had first become a joke, and then it was gone…”

My Observations

Imagine that I decide to apply my “wisdom” to the task of making a list of every possible calamity and oppression that could befall me and other Christians in the future. I don’t know with certainty that any of this will happen. I just have these concerns that lead to this bleak forecast and I think other Christians are not as alert and active as they should be.

I know I’m not a prophet in the authentic biblical sense. But I want to write with a prophetic flare. So I read trends, go with that thing “history repeats itself” and see if I can find an Orwellian font; then hammer the keyboard. I need to use some hyperbole. This list has to be breathtaking and must arrest the readers attention.

After making this list of future days of reckoning and catastrophe, I’ve almost given myself a stroke, it is so bad. I speak of “sometime in the future” with such dim, grey color I’ve alarmed myself. Real pews, lights, air conditioning and heating is gone (the essentials?). Choices are severely limited by tyrants. Almost everybody has quit doing what is right. I’ve painted a picture I just know will shock people.

I write that “No bombs fell and no shots were fired.” But a brood of evildoers slowly worked against righteousness, many just quit attending services and then quit altogether. The church was swept along with the tide of the times and “it was gone.” Because Christians had failed to make a stand.

I don’t quote scripture to rally people to the point of attack. I say nothing of God’s grace and providence. I write a hopeless Armageddon-like narrative of what I think might happen someday. Then I share this melancholic piece like it is breaking news.

What have I done for you? Have I encouraged you to deeper discipleship? Have I kindled your interests in serious Bible reading and study? Have I ignited your drive to take the gospel to the lost? Have you been edified by this tirade? Have I brought into question that the Kingdom of God is everlasting (Dan. 2:44)? And, will I share this with my kids, grandkids and great grandkids, telling them that things are just going to get worse?

I know people are hurting. I know a wave of more intense persecution could happen. I know people don’t know what to do. But does God really want us to pour gasoline on the fires of fear and suspicion?

The Lord’s church has survived Jewish oppression, Roman persecution, the apostasy of Catholicism, the dark ages, the sexual revolution and our own many internal conflicts. If we are headed for anything like exile, could we say this about our God? “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” (Isa. 41:10).

There are good families, preachers, elders, deacons and writers who speak up, press on and embrace the joy of being children of God, without compromise or conformity to the world. There are churches resisting the “tide of the times” and a host of senior saints who joyfully encourage the next generation. There are parents who refuse to give their children and grandchildren a doomsday clock. And marvelous young people who come out of the waters of baptism ready to live the gospel and share the gospel with unselfish devotion and hope.

Let’s be steadfast and unmovable without taking up some feigned prophetic mantle.

Truth Connection:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35-39, ESV)

-Warren E. Berkley, re-printed with permission from Pressing On Magazine,

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One thought on “Reckless and Hopeless

  1. Thanks for writing and sending this out. It’s easier to be hysterical than to be wise. Drew

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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