Birth pains-women will understand this, men, not so much. Birth pains are the physical sign that the time is near for a woman to bear a child and that the wheels in motion for this event can not be stopped or reversed. Jesus refers to the signs of the end times in Matthew 24 as the beginning of birth pains. This post is based on that analogy and may not rest well with many.
It would be intellectually dishonest from a spiritual perspective to deny that our great nation, the United States of America, has been on a great decline for many years now. We can still love her and prefer her over other countries, cheer for her at International events and proudly display her colors as patriots on holidays while relishing her freedoms. But we can’t deny the moral and spiritual decay she is suffering. That decay is like a spreading cancer slowly eating away at those elements which have always made America a strong and healthy nation. As with most cancer the treatment, or response, is often worse than the disease until it becomes a matter of waiting for the inevitable. Sounds hopeless, I know.
As I read the story this week of a beloved Pastor and University Professor who got caught up in the Ashley Madison profile leaks who decided to take his own life, it hit me just how far we have fallen. Don’t get me totally wrong-there are saints preserving the Gospel, saints feeding the hungry, rescuing the enslaved, taking mission trips to help the helpless-all attributes of a healthy church. Our Lord though His Spirit continues to use His people to do His work to help those with sincere and hungry hearts and real needs. But when you step back to view the big picture, the lines are becoming blurred and the colors once brilliant are fading.
There is no better time than at election time that one can hear how bad America is, though campaign speeches should never serve as a true State of the Union gauge. In any debate we will learn that our defenses are down, our economy is bankrupt, our schools are behind internationally and we are heading to Hell in a hand basket. Our natural and gut reaction is to climb onboard the bandwagon of the candidate we are sure is going to turn America around again and fix all our ills. And if he or she is evangelical, that’s even better. And while we should always have hope and be proactive in making the world around us a better place, can we honestly in view of New Testament prophesy concerning the signs of the end times, expect for a sudden and miraculous reversal when all indications are that the birth pains have begun?
In the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy he lays out for us some signs of the last days.
“There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves (Kingdom entitlement?), lovers of money (prosperity doctrine?) boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy(lacking spiritual discipline?), without love(prayer with no works?), unforgiving, slanderous(social media gossips?), without self-control (abusive priests?), brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than God(Congress?), having a form of godliness but denying its power, swayed by evil desires, always learning but never grasping the truth.”
I’m sure you would agree that in reviewing the list above we can see all these characteristics in our society today, and sadly even in the Church. We are told in the NT that God removes His spirit from such people and lets sin run its course. The traits mentioned above are running their course. Granted, there will always be individual stories of rescue by grace and God’s spirit will continue to be worked out in the lives of those who seek in earnest so that “none may perish”. But again, in light of the big picture view the fig leaves are falling and the signs are apparent.
A day closer to the return of Christ can be nothing short of Good News for the believer. We should be able to with hope and confidence view the events around us and look up with eager anticipation knowing that however many days, weeks, months, years or decades, we are getting closer to that day. That is not to say we should become oblivious to the world around us or throw our hands up in surrender opposed to being active and making a difference when and where we can. God defines true religion as loving Him, loving our neighbor, and taking care of the less fortunate. There things carry on regardless of the surrounding circumstances. Love good, hate evil, love everybody. All Souls Matter! But in doing so we must be cognizant that birth pains don’t stop and that the process the pains represent is in full motion. We may never again see the America we love and remember. We are certainly in a post-Christian America and I don’t see us going back. Scripture spells out what lies ahead for us. There will be suffering, persecution, a falling away from the Church, false teachers and weak followers getting their ears tickled each week. But to those who see and understand the grand plan and correlate these times to the script left for us to follow, we will become less geographically oriented and more Kingdom oriented as we await the return of Christ in the midst of falling fig leaves as Summer comes to an end. .