“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness… we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
These words by Charles Dickens, which describe the attitudes, climate and conditions of the days surrounding the French Revolution, could be applied to today. Turn on cable TV news for a few moments, and you are likely to be drawn into a tug-of-war of emotions and viewpoints of what is going on in America and around the world.
Whether it is an immigration policy, a major Court ruling or an election, there are countless events that have TV commentators preaching at us every day, telling us why we should be glad or sad or outraged by a given event. These so-called experts, some of whom I am sure are well-meaning, then peddle their solutions to any given program.
Rising above this daily merry-go-round of opinions, Christian writer Os Guinness reminds us in his latest book that there is ultimately one solution or answer for humanity.
The answer, which is of course the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, is portrayed in full force in his book, Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times.
Before he gets to the Good News, the writer does not paint a pretty picture of the state of the Church today and its power in the culture.
After (centuries) of dominance, “the West is being eclipsed in the global era, the United States as the lead society in the West stands on the verge of relative if not absolute decline, and much of the Christian Church in both Europe and North America is in a sorry state of weakness, confusion, unfaithfulness and cultural captivity,” he said.
Like others, Guinness believes that Christians are in a Daniel-like moment, finding ourselves “strangers in a strange land.” He shows that rather than despairing, we are called to have a faithful presence in this strange place and use the best tool in our arsenal, the Gospel itself.
What do we mean by the Gospel? We mean the Good News that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, Who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death to pay for the sins of all people including you and me; that He rose again gloriously from the dead, making possible forgiveness of sin, reconciliation with God and resurrection life to all who repent and trust in Him (1 Cor. 15:1-8).
In other words, no matter how dark the times, the Light of the Gospel has the power to transform it.
So, the next time you hear your neighbor, family member or friend outraged or in despair about bad news, reach into your spiritual tool bag and tell them of the Good News. Or, the next time cable TV talking heads have you down, believing only dark days are ahead, pray that God would encourage your heart and increase your belief that the best days of the church could be ahead of us. That, my friends, is the only real answer for our social upheaval today. Ultimately, that is the only Light to shine in these dark days.
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).