It’s tragic that you don't have to read far into any of these threads before you see deception, mockery, blasphemy and hatred. I’ll admit that it makes me angry to see Jesus mocked and blasphemed and His followers associated with all forms of wickedness, and I know that’s exactly what it’s designed to do. Christians have to remember that it ultimately isn’t with clever rhetoric and reasoned opinions that we fight a battle like this one, let alone by malice or similarly underhanded tactics.
When we express unchristlike attitudes and lack of unity rather than prioritizing the essentials of the faith, it feeds right back into the rancor. I pray daily for revival and power, because I feel my powerlessness and outrage over things I should instead be passionately grieving and praying about in the moment instead of railing against. The anger I feel doesn’t in-and-of itself accomplish the righteousness of God, (James 1:20), but it has the subtle danger of making me feel more “righteous.” On the other hand, judging ourselves is a biblical prescription for avoiding judgment. (1 Corinthians 11:31)
Instead of the division and animosity, I’d like to focus on better news: as you are no doubt aware, it’s reported that Asbury University in Kentucky has been experiencing revival since February 8 and it’s starting to be reported on other campuses as well. I don’t know enough about it to say for sure if it’s a genuine awakening, but I am hopeful!
On Wednesday, Cindy and I joined six other members of our Global Media Outreach staff and attended “Jesus Revolution” which is the story of the youth revival of the early 1970s, which became known as the “Jesus People Movement” in southern California as seen through the eyes of a young Greg Laurie. I thought it was very moving, and it made me long to see God do something like that again: many who experienced it firsthand report that it was a similar time to our own in some ways, with a huge division between the generations, distrust and opposing priorities.
“Movie night” coincided with some in-person meetings at our old office space with other members of our ministry. It was sort of a celebration: in the past six months, a dozen new employees have been added to our ranks. Tuesday was the first time we’ve met many of them in person, since many of them are remote. In addition to this, Wednesday was our founder Walt Wilson’s 85th birthday. He addressed the ministry with a wrenching personal testimony of his burden for reaching the United States. Before GMO, before his time at Computer Sciences Corporation, Apple or Fairchild Semiconductor, Walt defended our country in the US Marine Corps. God broke his heart last year as he read the book of Nehemiah’s description of Jerusalem’s broken-down walls. Walt says he sensed God’s call to reach America just as strongly as the direction to begin our ministry. In my September 2018 prayer letter, I quoted him, “Today’s world hears the love of God as hate.” On Wednesday, he reiterated this commitment, adding a vivid picture of Jesus’ announcement that His ministry was the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-2a. “Now is the year of the LORD’s favor.” The time is now. The opportunity is there. The invitation is still open.
The claim was that the “National Day of Hate” was white supremacists hating Jewish people, but as skeptical as I am that any group of people wanting to be taken seriously would publicize a “day of hatred” in this day and age, the real issue is the willingness of so many to believe it—and presume to expand it to include everyone who disagrees with them. The world has been deceived into thinking we have nothing to offer them but hatred. At the same time, we must resist thinking that people mindlessly repeating what they hear from one another, mocking or blaspheming Jesus are beyond our reach. Could anyone be too far gone for God to love? “The love of God,” as the old song puts it, “is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell; it goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell.”
People today are suffering a sort of hell of their own making, as they are taken advantage of by ideologues, marketers, entertainers, and educators. The walls that used to protect people are being broken down a dozen different ways. One side worries their audience about the dangers of climate change, losing identity, self-determination and protection from discrimination. Another side, about loss of free speech, corruption, persecution of believers and mutilation of children.
It’s no wonder each side sees the other’s position as hate. But, as the comparison between the Jesus People Generation and today’s illustrates, this isn’t really new. In fact, the deception that is rampant in the world and persecution of Christians go hand-in-hand:
"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it" (2 Timothy 3:12-14)
May our children—and yours—inherit a more United States under God
So as we expand our “Reach America” campaign at God’s calling, under Walt’s direction and through the gifts of the ministry parnters God has called to participate, we seem to be rushing headlong toward the conclusion of the year of the Lord’s favor and the beginning of the “Day of Vengeance of our God.” (Isaiah 62:2b) God is love; and His omnipresence may mean, as the Psalmist put it, “If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:8), but those who reject God today are cutting themselves off from that love when that day comes.
We need to learn to see threats, contempt, even blasphemy, as evidence of their bondage and suffering. May God give us the grace to interpret it as evidence of their need for our help. We have no power to do this on our own, but love is the most powerful message we have: there’s nothing else like it, and the world I’ve just described is experiencing little of it.
Thank you so much for your love and care for us—and your prayers for me as I awaited my cancer biopsy! My test results were once again Stage 0, praise the Lord!
Love, in Christ,
One Day Closer!