A Devotion for 28 August 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:14-18; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
There is a glaring and profoundly crucial question facing the Church in America as well as the Church around the world; the social contract in the western nations as well as those around the globe. That question is one of simple meaning but complex application – “Who do we serve in this life, God or mammon?”
The ancient culture that was once known as ‘western culture’ influenced the whole world in its impact. It was so because that culture was informed by an early acceptance and adherence to the Christian Faith. Today, that culture is less geographically defined since the Christian Faith has been preached and accepted by large numbers of believers in every corner of the earth. What was once considered western culture was merely the influence of the Christian Faith on the lives of the people of Europe and the New World. Now that belief has influenced and blessed every nation, tribe, and tongue around the world so that it is no longer defined as western culture, but the redeeming and efficacious influence of Christ on all peoples. Unfortunately, many of the western nations who had been purveyors and propagators of that faith have, themselves, abandoned it. There are many people in other parts of the world who are stronger proponents of biblical truth than those of the west. That is unfortunate, to say the least.
How did the western nations lose the strength of character and faith that had made them discover many cures for disease, explore the Ocean Seas, develop the fundamentals of the varied sciences and to share the blessings of God-given liberty to many peoples abroad? That is the crucial question, isn’t it?
Our Lord Jesus Christ states two immutable facts in the Gospel of St. Matthew: 1) “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men;” (Matthew 5:13), and 2) “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16).
These two texts provide an excellent exposition on what happened to the nations of Europe and America who abandoned the Ancient Landmark of their faith and launched out into the unchartered waters of worldly perversion and moral turpitude. In the olden days, the eyes of the west were fixed on Christ who lifted Europe and England out of the depths of superstition and bondage. But with the coming of industrialization and wealth, their eyes were distracted by mammon and the dark angel of greed and ungodly desire. We have a perfect example of such a loss of spiritual bearings in the account of Peter who desired the Lord to beckon him forth from the ship and onto the turbid waters of Galilee:
“And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:25-30) First of all, Peter could never have walked, even the short space, on the water without the Lord’s beckon. He trusted in the Lord enough to abandon the security of the ship and walk on the threatening waters of the sea. So, why did Peter sink? Because he took his mind off the Lord Jesus Christ and focused his attention on the windswept waves of the sea. He cried out to the Lord with one of the shortest prayers in Scripture – “Lord, save me!”
The Church is intended to be the salt of the earth. Salt is essential for life, but it is used sparingly. We do not apply the whole salt-shaker of salt to our morning eggs else it will taste terrible and not be healthy either. Like the Word of God, it must be shared in proper measure. “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 11For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. 13But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” (Isaiah 28:9-13) If the salt is placed too long on the ground, the sodium will finally begin to separate from the chlorine and join itself to other elements of the earth (world) just as a Christian who is too long associated with the unsavory elements of the world will lose attraction for the Lord his Maker and be attracted those unsavory elements of the world. The salt of the Spirit will have lost its savor.
Western culture has lost its sense and memory of, from what high point in the favor of God it has fallen. Adopting ungodly lifestyles and perversions, adapting arts of a demonic nature, and failing to teach its children the glorious truths of the Bible the West has lost all track of who it was in the past, and the reprobate social values it has come to embrace. The West has taken its eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ and focused on the world and its depraved ‘values.’
The mainline western churches have ceased to share the Light of the World with that world that it encounters. Instead of going out into the world and influencing its society to accept the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the church has opened her doors to the world and is, instead, changed to become like the world itself. If the Church can be compared to a ship, we can understand that a ship is constructed for the navigation of the seas. A ship is worthless if it is not in the sea transporting its valued cargo to all parts of the world. It belongs in the sea! But suppose the sea gets into the ship? Tragedy is certain. The world has gotten into the Ark of Christ instead of those waters being abated by the sweet influences of the Christian faith.
To the unseasoned sailor, the sea can be a treacherous environment to navigate. The gales and billows of the sea present a formidable threat to the seaman. When they grow to such intensity as to threaten the ship, the seaman searches the dark horizon for any sign of rescue. Suddenly, his troubled eyes spot a gleam of light sweeping the thunderous waves at regular intervals. He knows this to beckon to safe haven. As long as he is able to navigate to that great light beam, he knows he will be safe. The light house, the source of the beam of light, represents the Gospel of Christ searching the waters for the lost, the perishing, and the trusting. It attracts every vessel within its range to safe harbor. The Church is the Lighthouse of the world. The Church proclaims the Word of God to a dying world and those who perish in sin and reprobation. But when any material objects such as wealth or the sins of the flesh block that Light or cause its generation to fail, there will be a complete loss of hope.
The Light of the Church has grown dim in the West, but has enjoyed an amazing birth in many foreign lands where once darkness prevailed. The day may come, and now is, when the West could prosper from missionaries from countries it once evangelized coming to our shores and reminding us of that old path wherein our fathers walked and to return to it. That Christian culture that once strongly ruled the Western Powers has been reborn in lands formerly untaught and who now bear the banner and Ensign of Christ. To the true Christian, there is no native culture except that born of Christ.