As we argue, urge, mobilize, vote, write and so forth, we need to remember that all these things, however righteous they are in themselves — and they are — cannot supply an essential element of cultural reformation. In order to turn our culture back from the brink, we need to pray for the arrival of widespread fear.
In the book of Acts, it is striking how often this comes up. The things that provoke it vary — from signs and miracles, to the sudden death of a pair of liars, to a beatdown performed by a demoniac on the sons of Sceva.
“And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43).
“And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things” (Acts 5:11).
“And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them” (Acts 5:13).
“And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts 19:17).
This is quite a challenge, because at the end of the day believers are a flock of sheep, and not a pride of lions. The fear that comes upon the outsiders has to come because God, in some fashion, has made manifest to them that He is with us. If they mess with us, they are messing with Him.
This is true all the time, but it is not manifest all the time. It is true all the time because God will never leave us or forsake us. It is not manifest all the time because the Spirit, always present, is not always blowing. When it is manifest, when the wind stirs, the church has the mojo. When it is not, then the GOP, and Romney, and the NFL, all feel safe in saying that Arizona should much rather provoke the evangelicals than provoke the gayboys.
When the wind blows, then men of God preach boldly. When the wind blows, then God adds to our number daily those who are being saved. When the wind blows, then the Church is simultaneously respected and feared. When He does not, our sails hang slack.
One last thing. When men preach boldly — as when they declare that sin is bad and Jesus is good — it is easy to represent them as having a go-to-hell dismissiveness about them. But it is actually the opposite. Those ministers who crawl on hands and knees in order to obtain the respect of the world — an odd way of proceeding, I should think — are those whose mealy-pulpitoons amount to a wish that the world would continue on its way to Hell, not warned, not rebuked, not hindered in any way. And those who try to stand across the way are accused of having engineered the way in the first place, and of harboring a not-so-secret wish that all non-Christians would tumble headlong into the Abyss.
Have it your way. This perversion fits with the other one. If someone can’t tell the difference between a boy and a girl, then why should we expect them to be able to tell the difference between truth and flattering lies? If you don’t know who you should be loving, then why should you know who loves you?
Our sovereign God can create the fear necessary for cultural reformation out of unlikely materials. He has done it many times before, and we should be trusting Him to do it again. We don’t need to have an asteroid land on that iconic Hollywood sign. We don’t know where the black swan will appear. But this kind of fear will be one of the characteristics when it does.