So recently again I came across an article that decried Christian conservatives and their hateful attitudes. It seems like everywhere you traverse the internet, biblical values are under attack.
Not that Christians and churches shouldn’t be called out. As painful as it is, we need to be held accountable. And rigorously so. But according to God’s standards, not according to society’s latest moral fad.
Have you, like me, been disoriented by ungodly shifts in our culture and even the church? It’s not like the Lord isn’t at work, I don’t mean that. I do see evidence of good fruit in people’s lives and hear of people coming to the Lord. However, the fields don’t seem “ripe for harvest.” We’re certainly not living in the Billy Graham era anymore. Instead, a deeply God-antagonistic spirit seems to have gripped the land.
Ezekiel gave me some perspective on all this the other day. God tells him,
The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen . . . they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people (Ezekiel 2:4-6).
Two things in particular about this passage became clear:
A REBELLIOUS PEOPLE
First, that it’s possible to live in an era like Ezekiel. Even though the Israelites had been dragged into captivity by the Babylonians, they still did not humble themselves or seek the Lord. God calls them “hardened and obstinate” (Ezekiel 3:7). He tells Ezekiel, “Surely if I had sent you to [a people of obscure speech and strange language], they would have listened to you” (Ezekiel 3:6). That’s how bad the Israelites were.
It’s a good reminder that any previously “righteous” nation, even the United States, can change and become hardened towards God. Despite what I read in the news or see online, I still hold out hope for America. I have a friend who shares with his co-workers and says that he finds that most people do believe in God and are open to discussion. I have had similar experiences.
Secondly, Ezekiel shows what our stance needs to be – “to speak God’s words whether people listen or fail to listen.” In fact, there’s a very sobering warning about our responsibility to speak up, to warn people of their sin and call them to repentance. If we do not, their blood is on our hands (Ezekiel 3:18-21).
This warning is very convicting to me because people-pleasing is certainly one of my weaknesses—I’m easily worried about what others think, though God has grown me in this regard. It’s encouraging that four times in these two chapters God tells Ezekiel to not be afraid. How wonderful that God gave Ezekiel such strong support, buttressing his resolve so that he might successfully accomplish his mission. God may not ordain many like Ezekiel to exhort a nation, but all of us have family members, neighbors, friends, and co-workers into whose lives we are called to speak.
So . . . I want to remember to not be afraid or terrified of people—to not be afraid to speak.
Whether they listen or not.
Prayer: Lord, give us courage to be salt and light in our times. Amen.