– Summer of 1996
Don’t Move the Fences (Part Two)
Looking around the world scene, we note a real sense of apprehension—a genuine uneasiness, a pronounced fear, and a bewildering confusion. The church has not been exempt from this menacing uneasiness. The church and world alike are suffering from the systematic rejection of values, morals and convictions long held by Christians in particular, and by western civilization in general.
When these restraining principles for life and practice are lost, then we lose the very “retaining walls” that keep the foundation of civilization from being washed away in an onslaught of secularism. I would suggest to you that we are experiencing erosion of these foundations in three very important areas in today’s Christian culture.
First, we have lost a sense of eternity. When men no longer feel that life has destiny, they soon cease to believe that life has meaning and value. A lost sense of eternity will redefine our existence. John Wesley, who spent countless days on horseback, sleeping her and there and preaching the gospel, was a man with a keen sense of eternity. He wrote in his journal after spending a delightful evening in a very palatial home, “I like a nice bed, a beautiful room, and lovely grounds; but I believe in eternity. Hence I will arise early and be on my way.”
When we lose a sense of eternity, we become materialistic. Materialistic causes us to view life through a totally different lens than God intended us to use. We begin to focus on what we wear, what we eat, what we live in, and how much we make. Like Lot we view the well-watered plains of Jordan as something desirable and drive out tent pegs deeply in this modern-day Sodom. Materialism quickly leads to secularism; and secularism will take us down a treacherous slope to hedonism, where we shamelessly “belly-up” to this world’s cafeteria of constant pleasure. Fun and folly become the norms of life.
Once a sense of eternity has slipped from our consciousness, we next lose a sense of morality. When a man’s moral compass can no longer point to absolute truth, his ability to discern right and wrong become impossible. With right and wrong disregarded, decency, propriety, and purity are no longer virtues to emulate, but something to mock. Issues of clean language, modest attire, and sexual purity become irrelevant matters of legalistic behavior that ought to have died sooner. In the words of Chesterton, “We insist on becoming completely unstrained but will only succeed in being completely unbuttoned.”
The last foundation we lose is a sense of accountability. When accountability goes, so does our conscience. With no conscience to guide, men suppress, subvert and ultimately scorn God’s truth. The cry of the pagan, “evil be thou my good,” becomes the philosophy of the man from skid row to Wall Street. Abortion, euthanasia, adultery, lying, and stealing are only methods to accomplish a desired end rather than sins that would damn a man to Hell.
Reader, be careful! Recklessly removing the ancient landmarks of our godly forefathers can result in a dangerous confusion of where the lines really lie in the land. Before you remove the fence, make sure you ask yourself why it was put there to start with. The cost of defiance and reckless destruction of God’s fundamental truths can be eternally devastating.