Hope Amid the Ruins

Hope itself is sort of like this blog over the last year and a half. It is sometimes strong, sometimes flickering and sputtering, sometimes going out completely, sort of like those trick birthday candles that blow out and then come back.

It’s been a very complex time in our lives. Everything in this world has become very strange and confusing. Christians are not exempt from experiencing those things. Old landmarks, old trusted institutions, churches, people we admired or followed, all of the old is rocking and shaking and changing.

News last week of a big name pastor among far-right fundamental Baptists who got caught after sexual involvement with a 16-year-old girl he had been counseling really wasn’t much of a surprise. What would once have been shocking is almost not shocking anymore as the sad news that yet another big name has crashed and burned in the middle of a double life made headlines.

Christian rhetoric and high external “standards” can be the ultimate smokescreen for the reality of our lives. It is very easy to appear to have our spiritual lives together if we spout the right phrases, quote a few verses, stay clean cut in appearance and windex our “windows” that people see. But internal rot cannot be hidden forever. It will be revealed in time.

There is a passage of Scripture (Jesus’s words in Matthew 24:12) that talks about how in the last days of history, the love of many Christians will grow cold because sin is so rampant. It is happening before our eyes. These evil times have even the most devout Christians looking around, trying to make sense of the senseless ruin in so many lives of professing believers. I say senseless, because it is difficult to understand how we could hold the cure for it in our own hands or promote the cure to others while ignoring it in our own lives.

This is the time when hope can flicker in our own hearts and lives. The primary problem is that a relationship with a doctrinal position is not the same as a relationship with Jesus. Rectitude in your theological position is not the same thing as having the Spirit of God within, convicting of sin, creating new life in the old person.

We are told what the fruit of the Holy Spirit looks like. There is no mystery here. And there are no special exemptions for those who have done enough spiritual work to get a free pass on a fruit check.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…(Galatians 5:22-23)

The hallmark of believers is love for others. We are told in plain terms what that love looks like.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

~ I Corinthians 13

There is no way in ourselves that we can have that kind of love. Hurt creates resentment and bitterness. Hurt left unresolved for years can created a veritable tsunami of rage and un-forgiveness. It can wash away your very view of God. Only the work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts can change this, but if we are children of the Light, this is what must happen.

The world around us is only going to worsen as the natural consequences of our culture’s and much of the visible church’s anarchy against God grows worse. Only God at work in our hearts, through His Son, can keep us in times like this. Our prayer has to be, “Lord, heal us, and we shall be healed. Rescue us from the tidal wave of sin and wrong reactions to the filth and destruction around us. We can’t handle it on our own.”

There is another part to this, however. My favorite music is sacred music. The opening lines of Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn is the great chorus singing, “Help, Lord!” The idolatry of God’s people had brought them drought and ruin. God showed himself at Mt. Carmel in a powerful way, the prophets of Baal were destroyed, and God was returned to His rightful place in their hearts. This is the area God, I believe, wants his people to address. We have to tear down these high places of idolatry, and then our prayers for healing spiritually will be answered.  The healing rains of God’s deliverance will come. Only each of us individually knows if or where we have these places, but I know this: If we ask, God will answer us and point them out.

No, the Hope Blog has not completely sputtered out. The hope in my heart that has flickered and sputtered at times over the last 18 months is still here, and for that I give the Lord Jesus Christ all of the credit. He alone is the answer to our broken state, no matter how much we may want to find the cure elsewhere, no matter how much we want to write off spiritual answers, or walk away from the faith in the face of so much treachery and ruin.

Men and women will fail us. We will fail completely in ourselves. But Jesus never fails. He shines as our ultimate hope. Brighter than the sun at noon. Take the scales from our eyes, God, so we can see Jesus in all His glory and fall at His feet and  worship.

10 thoughts on “Hope Amid the Ruins

  1. Paula says:

    Well said Ingrid. Living without hope is not a life. When hope dies, you have to find a way, any way, to revive it. It is not easy, it is a choice. But i have learned, there is simply no alternative.

  2. Jean Selden says:

    Ingrid,
    This is exactly what we have been experiencing for the last 6-8 years. The movement in the churches was very subtle, but we watched very conservative pastors start to display and support ungodly practices and teachings. After attending multiple churches and not finding one that had strong godly leadership, but filled with cheap grace we retired to home churching. The stench in the increasing number of liberal congregations is only growing. We have had many calling us for direction as to where to find the truth preached and lived and we have no answers.

    This is the time where the love of most has grown cold. The remnant is exactly that–a remnant. It is a long process getting your balance when the Christian world as you know it isn’t what you thought it was. We had to rethink God, our relationship with him, our ministry for Him, etc., etc. We have received so much healthy teaching through John MacArthur ministries that has helped us grow in our understanding of God and His ways. We have spent the last five years ministering outside the church building to our neighbors, the broken Christians who are experiencing disillusionment, and to whomever else is placed in our paths. We are now getting suspicious of those that continue on in these so-called places of worship. They seem oblivious to the dangers of sitting under false teachers. They seem to take some sort of religious comfort from belonging to a “church.”

    I am with you Ingrid, Lord heal our land, but please begin with me.

    Sincerely,
    Jean (Tizzy) Selden

  3. Linda M. says:

    Wow! What an awesome encouraging and deep written article. You must have expressed this from the depths of your heart coupled with your walk with Christ.

    “The primary problem is that a relationship with a doctrinal position is not the same as a relationship with Jesus.”

    –So very true.. Enoch walked with God”.. Spending time “abiding” in Christ is cultivating a walk with Christ and not just a talk. It’s not just about knowing the right things to say but having intimacy with Jesus.

    Thanks for blessing my heart with your genuine hope in Christ!

  4. carolyn says:

    This made so many thoughts go through my mind… these are truly difficult times for even the most grounded believers. If the foundations are destroyed, what will the righteous do? As usual, you nailed this one, Ingrid.

    Jean S – love your description of hurting believers, it was excellent: “broken Christians who are experiencing disillusionment”. That’s exactly it.

    As for why some still continue on in spiritually cockeyed churches… some for sure want their itching ears tickled, and actively seek it out. Some may not yet be able to discern the difference between sound and false teaching, especially concerning the more subtle heresies that have crept in unawares. Some have become like frogs put into cold water that is slowly being heated to a boil – so they don’t see it coming until it’s right on top of them. And some sad souls are just hungry for fellowship and know they need to be shepherded, and may feel trapped, with nowhere else to go.

    Home churching would work, if you can find other likeminded people to join you…

    Christ, help us all.

  5. Linda M. says:

    in our pursuit of defending the faith and holy living Christians can become so dilettante to the point that it becomes more of a game of turning religion into an intellectual exercise called Philosophy. But if we don’t truly get to Know Jesus and “abide in him” by fearing the LORD, then we know absolutely nothing.

    I’ve met many a Christian especially online who lack true biblical brotherly love. I have even fallen in that state before myself, where there’s this lack of grace and humility.

    Wisdom dwells TOGETHER with prudence not apart from it. It takes wise men who are humble before Almighty GOD. there are a few out there to balance their erudite learning’s with discretion and prudence. ” Pr. 8:12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.”

    We need to return to the doctrines of Grace, to truly fearing the LORD. If we don’t know God is truly Sovereign then man tends to deify himself.. We need to learn to acknowledge HIM in all our ways and HE will direct our paths.. Who is GOD? What are his attributes and how wise is God.. He’s GOD not us….

    I find myself trying to figure things out in my own wisdom and then Scripture reminds me “do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and shun evil.”– God is ALL-Wise not me,, GOD is everywhere at the same time,,, NOT me,, Only GOD knows the future not me.

    Many Christians think too much apart from the LORD…

  6. carolyn says:

    Matthew 9:36
    Seeing the people, He [Jesus] felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

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