This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post
Taking my life decade by decade, I’d confess these would be the relatable refrains of the Almighty to my heart in each scale of my journey:
- As a child I was drawn to a Sunday School God with stories of braveries and miracles on flannel graph and innately knew my own story was being fitted to join in somehow.
- In my teens and twenties it was the sternness and forgiveness, the judgments and mercies, of God in the prophets that shaped me.
- In my thirties and into my forties, I was positively rabbinical in my poring over the Old Testament and discovering the Father’s heart as broken and pleading for His wayward children and making for them a way out of their wilderness.
- Later in my forties, I uncovered Jesus from the Pentateuch – bridging it to the Gospel in the New – and seeing how everything points to Him, how He connects the dots, learning how one can preach the Gospel from there and not perverting it with works-salvation.
- And so far in my fifties, I’m rediscovering the stand-alone story of ‘chesed‘ throughout all of Scripture and the intimacy of God-come-near in Jesus – the Good News that is only good and really all that God has left with us to preach – and that it’s amazingly enough.
These were the overtures of God in each stage of my faith journey. It would also seem that God has ‘themed’ His communications to the Church throughout her history. Each ‘generation’ of followers of the Lord Jesus has been faced with its own challenge – a direct question taken from the Gospels in various settings.
The Cry and Call of God to His people has been ‘generation-specific’ in the changing eras of Church history. Each version has had to answer to a divinely inspired challenge and respond in their crisis of belief to the stewardship of the Kingdom set before them. Allow me to show you what I mean*:
The ‘First-Generation’ Church:
This was the age of martyrdom and following Jesus at great cost. It seems their testimony was asked to stand up to the query of Jesus:
Will you lay down your life for My sake?”
The 4th Century Issue:
A concerted effort to de-deify Jesus had been in the mix for (then) hundreds of years, and the matter was settled by the Church at the Council of Nicea, where church leaders drove the stake in the ground once and for all declaring Jesus to be One and the Same with the Father. It seems, then, they had to answer to:
What do you think of the Christ? Whose Son is He?”
The Dark Ages:
The merciful end to this prolonged spiritual black hole of Church corruption gave rise to ‘reformers’ whose identities suffice with easily recognizable last names: Hus, Luther, Knox, Wycliffe, and Calvin. These – and a host of others – stood unapologetically on salvation by grace through faith and not man’s work nor payment of indulgences. It’s plain to see their kind answered to:
Did I not say if you believe you would see the glory of God?”
The Age of ‘Open Doors’:
Carey, Taylor, Livingstone, Judson, Goforth, Moon, Studd, Brainerd, Aldersey – to name a few – each left the comforts and conveniences of home and security to take the living Gospel to the ends of the known earth, causing the Church to explode onto the global stage. God’s challenge to stay man’s notion of enlightenment and secularism was accepted by these selfless men and women who answered “yes” to:
When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith(fulness) on the earth?”
20th Century Prosperity:
Industry and the rise of technology made the West the most affluent society on earth – and with it, materialism, individualism, greed and selfishness. To His people living under the difficult yoke of Western prosperity, God issued an invitation to lay up treasures in Heaven by surrendering their bank accounts on earth to His glory. Many, but not most, and certainly not all answered in the affirmative to:
Do you love Me more than these?”
The Beginning of the ‘Great Falling Away’:
Paul told his disciple Timothy it would happen in the ‘last days’ and we’re here, folks. Religious pluralism, rampant hedonism, pervasive secularism, radical inclusivism and forced tolerance are a swelling tide coming down on the landscape of the world, and the Church is a weakened bulwark against it. Many are being drawn away and perishing. Who will stand? Who will remain firmly in faith? Jesus asked His own –
Will you also go away?”
And they said:
Where else would we go? You alone have the words of Life.”
Is this our generation’s question?
Or is there another?
I have an idea there’s another one for us – and, Lord willing, I’ll share it in the next podcast. Bless you, friends, for giving me your time in these posts. Until next time…
In His joy!
Note: I must give credit where it’s due, so these ‘generation-specific’ questions from the Lord Jesus were taken from an article by O. S. Hawkins I’ve kept on file for the last decade.