A friend working in a formerly communist country in Europe, recently made this comment:
English camp this past week was a great treat for me – getting out in the woods, teaching, and spending time praying and sharing the gospel with young people who are oblivious to God’s provision, love, and authority. It nearly bowls me over to realize how lost this country is.
I work at the opposite end of the earth and was just thinking a similar thing, that so many people do live as though they were oblivious to God’s provision, love, and authority. Here the problem is not communism. In fact, everyone here has to have a religion by government mandate. Most consider themselves followers of a certain prophet though a significant minority claim to be followers of Jesus. Here they all believe in God but it often seems to be more of a preventive belief, ie do certain rituals just in case so that God won’t be angry and send disaster. It seems that in all religions there are a number of people who in essence rewrite their religions to suit themselves. One prophet follower said that she didn’t want to study her religion too much because the more you know the more you are responsible to do. Another friend told me that recently some in her village church have been challenging those who oppose the use of black magic by saying things like “How do you know we should do such and so? How many times have you been to heaven and back?”
I was in my home country a few months ago and it was shocking to me how commonly accepted it is now to not only use profanity in the media but to openly mock people who believe in God and to mock even God Himself. Even some who claim to be Christians seem to have their own ideas of “God”, they in essence create a god according to their liking and not according to what He has revealed in Scripture.
The internet is full of websites, Youtube videos, and commentary by people who don’t seem to have made much of an effort to study the Bible themselves but yet wax eloquent on how it is all fiction and how organized religion is just a racket to control people. Instead they hold up other ideas that have far less concrete evidence for them and declare them as fact.
All of the above are oblivious to God’s provision, love, and authority. All of them show a profound ignorance of the Bible, from the formerly communist Europeans to the functionally illiterate Asian peasants to the highly literate but Biblically-ignorant internet bloggers and writers of the English-speaking world.
Is the problem functional illiteracy? If everyone were literate and had the Bible in a language they could understand, would they all believe? If people worked hard to broadcast radio programs and to bring Bibles into communist lands for people to read, would all believe? Never before have so many Bibles and helps in so many forms – written, audio, paper, digital – been available to the average person in the English-speaking world. Do all believe? Many do believe and delight in being able to study God’s Word in such depth. But not all. Indeed, perhaps never before has there been such public scorn for God as there is now.
Jesus explained our condition to Nicodemus in John 3 like this:
19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. ”
We all start out like that. For most of us the problem is not that we can’t read, not that we don’t have access to a Bible but that we simply don’t want to know. The problem is, we don’t want to acknowledge that our deeds are evil, we want to think we are good. We reject God’s authority – we want to write our own rules according to our own desires. We think we are the ones who order the world and provide by our own efforts. And we like to think that love, especially divine love, means uncritical acceptance of any and all behavior – even though we ourselves would never think of “loving” our own children that way.
We are experts in coming up with all kinds of excuses and we especially like to blame other people – Christianity is the religion of the colonizer, the evil capitalists, and the evil West. The institutional Church is corrupt and has been used to control people. There are too many hypocrites in the church, too many abusive clergy. All those accusations have some truth to them. But it was not God who commanded us to colonize, to be corrupt or to control other people, nor to be hypocrites, or to abuse others. He didn’t ask us to believe in an organization, or in people who say they are religious. Instead He has commanded us each and individually to repent and believe the gospel. That is, to repent and to trust in what God has done for us, namely that Jesus Christ who was perfectly sinless died and has atoned for our sin, appeasing God’s wrath against our sin thus making it possible for us to have eternal life and fellowship with God Himself. Now THAT is a good deal!