Dr. Tony Evans is one of the most brilliant biblical expositors in the evangelical world. Always measured and thoughtful, he is the opposite of a reactionary voice. As a result, when he says America is under judgment, you and I should listen. And when he explains why, we should listen even more personally.
In an interview with the Christian Post, Dr. Evans stated his belief that God’s judgment on our world is evidenced by conflicts which seem unending in recent years. He cited 2 Chronicles 15:3–6, which reads in part, “One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress.” He also pointed to Romans 1, which speaks of God removing himself from those who remove themselves from him.
Why is God judging us?
Dr. Evans stated, “I think one of the things we’re facing now is the judgment on America because of the failure of the church to be the people of God that represents his kingdom more than we represent the nation.” This is because, as he states, “We’ve been more cultural Christians than biblical Christians.”
Is he right?
LGBTQ flash cards in a preschool class
Funerals began yesterday afternoon in Uvalde, Texas, a week after a mass shooting that killed nineteen children and two teachers. Several schools have faced copycat threats in the days since. Just days after the school shooting in Uvalde, more than thirty people lost their lives from gun violence around the country.
In other news, today marks the first day of Pride Month, an annual focus on the LGBTQ community. As evidence of the further normalization of unbiblical sexuality, a school system in North Carolina is investigating how LGBTQ-themed flash cards were used in a preschool classroom.
As another sign of our times, consider this headline: “Laverne Cox is first trans woman to have Barbie doll modeled after her.” The article came to me in an “Optimist” email from the Washington Post among other “feel good” stories.
And the ongoing pandemic is impacting our children in deeply significant ways. In a New York Times survey, 94 percent of school counselors said their students were showing more signs of anxiety and depression than before the pandemic. One said, “Anxiety is filling our kids right now. They are worried about their family and friends. They are stressed because they are behind in school.”
Parents are struggling as well. They are dealing with the rising costs of gas, groceries, and other daily expenses. Black, Latino, and Asian parents are stressed about racism, bullying, and violence their kids may encounter. And 62 percent of parents said they feared their children could be victims of a mass shooting.
One parenting expert said, “There’s almost not a word to express the stress parents are under right now. ‘Overwhelmed’ doesn’t cut it. It’s beyond anything we’ve experienced.”
Beware “the coral insects of thy little sins”
Yesterday we focused on Alan Noble’s perceptive book, You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World, and his assertion that we belong either to ourselves or to God. Here’s why his book is relevant to Dr. Evans’ warning: when we belong to ourselves, we commit idolatry. We worship the creature rather than the creator.
God cannot bless such sin because he cannot be complicit in idolatry, and he knows how much this sin harms us. In fact, he must judge such sin as a means to our repentance and restoration to himself.
As a result, it is imperative that you and I see sin as God does. There are no “small” sins with a holy God, no “private” sins we can commit without consequences. On the contrary, “sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:15).
Charles Spurgeon noted that God “hides his face behind the wall of thy sins” and observed, “That wall may be built up of little pebbles, as easily as of great stones. The sea is made of drops; the rocks are made of grains; and the sea which divides thee from Christ may be filled with the drops of thy little sins; and the rock which has well nigh wrecked thy ship may have been made of the daily working of the coral insects of thy little sins” (his emphasis).
However, he added, “Christians can never sin cheaply; they pay a heavy price for iniquity. Transgression destroys peace of mind, obscures fellowship with Jesus, hinders prayer, brings darkness over the soul; therefore be not the serf and bondman of sin” (his emphasis).
How to be blessed
Dr. Evans is right: The further our culture turns away from God, the further we turn into idolatry and the inevitable judgment of God. What is true of our nation is also true of your soul and mine.
However, our Lord can empower us to live for Christ and not for ourselves, to choose holiness over idolatrous sinfulness.
He promised Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Sufficient in the Greek means to have all we could want or need. Made perfect could be translated as “brings its intended purpose to completion.” If we will admit our weakness over temptation and ask God for his power to fulfill his Christlike purpose in our lives (Romans 8:29), his grace becomes sufficient for us, always.
When we face temptation, therefore, our first response must be to turn to our Lord for such help and victory. Our second response must be to then do what he tells us to do. As we obey God, we are empowered by God. When we do what we are called to do, God does what only he can do.
As we work, God works. As God works, we work.
John Calvin observed, “It is a most blessed thing to be subject to the sovereignty of God.”
Will you be blessed today?
NOTE: For more on today’s conversation, please see my latest personal blog, “How I resolved one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith.”