Pastor Dan preached from Psalm 120 last Sunday night, and brought to light how hostile is this surrounding culture. And, of course, according to the Bible we are aliens living in a pagan culture until we get to glory. I guess we all know that, but the problem is that when a semblance of what Francis Schaeffer called a "Christian memory" lingers in our culture, we easily get lulled into thinking we are among friends. Then every once in a while we are shocked by our American culture's easy adoption of blatant immorality (abortion or fornication, for example). Then it is time to let theology inform our alien walk here below.
My friend, Chuck McIlhenny recently experienced just that. Of all people, he knows this experience all too personally. (Read his book, "When the Wicked Seize a City".) He has been working as a hospital chaplain. Isn't it great that our society still sanctions chaplains? Whether it is in war or at a hospital bedside, what is more important than offering the hope that only comes from our Savior and His promises? But wait a minute, that is the one thing a chaplain in our pagan culture is not allowed to do! If you happen to be ministering to someone who already believes in Jesus Christ, and if he wants you to do this, only then is the gospel sanctioned by the powers that be. Chuck is a little bold for Jesus, and doesn't mind stepping over the lines of sanction in order to save a soul from eternal damnation. But the chaplain's office has actually called him on the carpet for this very thing! He has been severely restricted for this. Like cold water in the face, we realize once again, this is not a Christian country. As Isaac Watts said in one of his great hymns: "Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me on to God?"
Didn't our Savior warn us that this world hated Him, and it would hate us too? Isn't it still the culture of the world, the same one that killed our Master? When they smile and agree with us over the rising price of gasoline, or the shame of politicians on the take, we forget that it is a mask they are wearing. They hate our Jesus, and when we identify with the gospel, they hate us too. They are masked killers. Jesus said we must love them and pray for them, but he also warned us to beware of wolves in sheep's' clothing.