By Bob Shillingstad
This is Holy Week for Christians and the week of Passover for Jews, after the effects of COVID this last year we wonder how this has affected the church? Of course we all remember last Easter when virtually every church and synagogue was closed and we were all consigned to staying home and none of us could imagine that this entire year would be similar. On top of all of that we look at the culture today and sometimes the news stories bring us to tears. Jane and I watched a story about a commercial for shampoo that was put out by Proctor and Gamble. It was about two lesbians raising a son who was about 11 years old and they were dressing him and treating him as a girl, this was who “he was inside”! All we could do was weep.
We read stories about states passing legislation prohibiting boys from competing as girls at school athletic events. We followed a lawsuit filed by a coffee shop at BSU that was kicked out of the Boise campus because they supported “Blue Lives” or law enforcement. The legislature in Idaho is wrestling with the funding of colleges in the midst of the “social justice/BLM” takeover. We ask ourselves, “where is the moral authority of the Church and Christians?”
We also realize that as Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun”. The church barely survived as the Roman Empire fell and the pagan hordes took over Europe, saved only by the establishment of monasteries, particularly in Ireland. How the Irish saved Christianity is a fascinating study and puts St. Patricks day in a whole new light. We look back at Great Britain in the 18th century and life was brutal and ungodly and yet John and Charles Wesley along with George Whitfield brought revival not only to Great Britain but also to the American Colonies. Without that “great awakening” or revival there would not have been a successful revolution in America. This was the first of many revivals we have experienced in our history and as God brought the Jews out of Egypt we have seen our own miracles.
If you are old enough to remember the 1960’s you will recall terrible race riots in over sixty cities along with anti-war demonstrations. It was the time of “free love, sex, drugs and rock and roll” and ground zero was San Francisco. But we also remember the “Jesus Movement” and thousands across the country coming to Christ. We had images of scores being baptized at the California beaches and it became nation wide. The Calvary Chapel denomination arose out of this and movies like “Woodlawn” give a picture of how the Holy Spirit moved on our land.
One of the very positive observances in the Jewish faith is the Passover ritual that is very carefully scripted. The purpose is to remind the family and young people what God did in their history and saved them. We also see in that ceremony, as Christians, so much that points to Christ. Perhaps we need to do something similar in our homes this Easter, to remind ourselves of how faithful God has been.
This past year has put a strain on churches and pastors and many churches have closed. Alex McFarland had some interesting comments when he said, “Coupled with flat evangelism numbers, there’s just not the ethic of churchmanship that we’ve seen in previous generations,” McFarland tells OneNewsNow. “I do think that a number of churches that were just kind of on the brink anyway, regrettably, will have to close their doors.” And the financial strain of churches that were already living on the edge will only get worse, he says. “It’s going to get really scary really quickly for a lot of these churches that have really not had a viable financial plan or maybe even lived beyond their means,” the Christian apologist warns.
On the other hand, he says, this could be a pruning of the vine, as Jesus talked about in John 15. And if so, that pastors and congregations that want to “be timeless and always relevant” must focus on “the things that are eternal and never go out of date.”
Things like preaching the Word of God, the authority of scripture, praying and seeking the power of God – and being willing to call out sin.
The news can be discouraging, last October, Pew Research found that in the last ten years the percentage of Americans who identify as “Christian” had dropped 12 points to only 65%. During that same time, the unchurched – or “nones,” as some refer to them – has risen from 17% to 26%. The report rattled off several other markers … all heading down. We are facing the spirit of the age, atheists, agnostics, secularists, cultural Marxists are openly bringing their worldview in, and Christians have been taught to very quiet and keep their views within the church walls. Remember these are not enemies but lost souls. They need to hear the word this Easter and beyond. Christ lives and conquered the grave. Pray for our country and our leaders and let your witness be bold. We wish all of you a blessed Easter.