I recently purchased the second Hobbit movie; "The Desolation of Smaug." While watching it again I was struck a line of dialogue that occurs between Legolas and Tauriel; two elves who are pursuing the orcs that are hunting down a company of dwarves. Tauriel asks Legolas: "When did we allow evil to become stronger than us?" The first time I heard that line I was struck by how telling it was for our time.
It has become accepted practice in the church to ask how our culture has become what it is, and many in the church have begun to ask how it is that the church has come to be in the shape that it is in. We seem surprised that our churches are seemingly powerless in the face of our culture's slide into wickedness, but anything more than a cursory glance at the condition of our churches will provide the answer to our cultural decline. The cultural decline in America is tied directly to the health of our churches. A sick and dying church leads to a sick and dying culture.
And the church is sick because the church has chosen accommodation and acceptance over devotion and dedication. Since 1960 we have seen the dishonoring of Sunday as a day of rest and worship, the wholesale acceptance of death on demand for those in the womb, the resignation to the idea that "everybody's doing it," and innumerable other social sins. And throughout all of this "progress" (how is it that those who promote sinful, ungodly behavior have been allowed to label such behaviors as "progressive?") the church has grown more and more mute and more and more irrelevant less and less influential. If I might be so bold, I believe that the church has become this way because the pulpits of our churches have lost the power of God. I don't want to disparage pastors, I am one myself, but our pulpits have lost the power of God. Most of the pastors I know are good men who love God, but they struggle with and increasingly indifferent local body that doesn't want to heart the truth as much as they want to have their ears tickled, to be told that they are "special" and that God is all about their happiness and giving them all that they wanted. Whatever happened to dying to self, taking up your cross and following Jesus?
In short, we don't need more Joel Osteen's or Joyce Meyers'...we need more W.A. Criswell's and John MacArthur's. The American church public may not want it, but they need it. The Word of God contains the only answer to what ails America. Another program, another emphasis, another building or catchphrase or best selling book won't fix the church or our nation. The answer to what we need is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
We all need to forsake the self-centered, materialistic, comfortable religion of our day and embrace the cross of Christ.