Christendom is in a bad way. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe the Church herself is radiant, blameless, and a spotless bride prepared for her groom. The true Church is doing just fine. However, Christendom, as a whole, is not doing so hot. Case in point: within the last week or so, I’ve hear two prominent Christian artists come out in support of gay marriage, one Christian artist declare that their marriage is over, and Rob Bell was interviewed by Oprah and when asked to define God, He squeaked out a pathetically vague answer that would make the Westminster Divines to blush. Further, two influential evangelical leaders (Bill Gothard and Doug Philips) are in the midst of, shall we say, kerfuffles of their own (involving maidens, money and abuse of power).
We live in a generation where backbone is needed. Those who would truly serve Jesus Christ will need to be less like Shirley Temple receiving an Academy Award and more like Aragorn marching on the Black Gates of Mordor, likely to his death. Our Enemy isn’t conceding anything, so why are we? Indeed, why are we conceding not merely inches, but miles of territory to a foe who is beaten.
One thing that can’t be said forcefully enough in this dark hour, is that we, as Christians, are not parleying. We are declaring unequivocal terms of surrender to this rebel world. After all, we are more than conquerors, and our feet are to be employed in the business of crushing the Serpent’s Head wherever he chooses to raise that vile brow, through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 16:20).
I’ve often observed that Christendom has adopted an effeminate atmosphere in our Church-culture; sappy music with mushy “Jesus is my boyfriend” lyrics, coupled with pop-psych pep talks is certain to keep Christendom as irrelevant as possible, all the while we think we are super-appealing to the millennials, Gen-Xers, Baby-boomers, or whatever other generational distinctions there are. In Christendom’s pursuit of cultural relevance we have abandoned the truth that regardless of cultural norms and traditions the truth of God’s Word remains relevant, always. The question ought not to be “What is currently relevant to the culture?” The question must ever be, “What actually IS relevant to this culture?” We need men who have a backbone enough to believe this fact, and unapologetically preach this as fact.
Since, I referenced Aragorn earlier, I recalled an inspiring passage from Lord of the Rings, and I think it is instructive. As Aragorn & co. march to the Black Gates, certain to meet their doom, some men in his army begin to cower. I love Aragorn’s response to such men:
So desolate were those places and so deep the horror that lay on them that some of the host were unmanned, and they could neither walk nor ride further north. Aragorn looked at them, and there was pity in his eyes rather than wrath; for these were young men from Rohan, from Westfold far away, or husbandmen from Lossarnach, and to them Mordor had been from childhood a name of evil, and yet unreal, a legend that had no part in their simple life; and now they walked like men in a hideous dream made true, and they understood not this war nor why fate should lead them to such a pass. ‘Go!’ said Aragorn. ‘But keep what honour you may, and do not run! And there is a task which you may attempt and so be not wholly shamed. Take your way south-west till you come to Cair Andros, and if that is still held by enemies, as I think, then re-take it, if you can; and hold it to the last in defence of Gondor and Rohan!’ Then some being shamed by his mercy overcame their fear and went on, and the others took new hope, hearing of a manful deed within their measure that they could turn to, and they departed. And so, since many men had already been left at the Cross-roads, it was with less than six thousands that the Captains of the West came at last to challenge the Black Gate and the might of Mordor. (Tolkien, J.R.R. (2012-02-15). The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (p. 886). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.)
It may be that there are some who are unmanned by the commission to stand unabashedly for the Gospel of Christ in an hour of darkness when mockery, contempt and scorn is the only earthly reward one is likely to get. If so, may they go and attempt a manful deed within their measure. However, some at least, and it may well be less than six thousand, will need to brace their sinews and steel their nerves and march to the very gates of hell. Buxton gave an inspiring poetic eulogy of CT Studd, and how we need this sort of stern grit and steel to return to Christendom:
Let the victors when they come
When the forts of folly fall
find thy body near the wall.