We had two mature Christians to tea yesterday, in our woodland garden, who during our wider discussions gave a comprehensive analysis of the state of the Church today. As we were speaking about our shared disappointments about the condition of contemporary Christianity, they uncovered for us, in detail, what is really going on.
After nearly 50 years of churches, church meetings and knowing the end of various "stories", they uncovered things, both hidden and observable, which are obstructing the real witness of the Church and that of real Christianity. The obstruction is quite simply explained: the false visible church is only really interested in worldly things, and as always, in power at all costs. What really shocked me was finding out why the authentic church cannot stand up better against false teaching/claims. Before uncovering this, I had believed that their response was uninspiring and "weak".
Shakespeare in "Henry V" makes it quite clear that the visible Church has been taken over, or at least may be taken over, even at the most senior levels, by the spirit of "Anti-Christ". His Archbishop of Canterbury incites the King in "Henry V" to conquer France with huge loss of life, for the simple reason that he wants to recoup financial losses for the Church and maintain power, status and influence for himself. No doubt, he justified this to himself on the grounds of "strengthening the church in Europe". Of course, Shakespeare indicates that warped motives are ways of the damned, not of the regenerate.
Some of what I was told by our friends yesterday has deeply disturbed me. I will not go into the details here. I fear that today's young Christians will have to find their way through an almost impenetrable maze of every kind of deception, through real spiritual oppression backed, possibly, by subliminal secular strategies, in order to stay true, with God's help, to the real Gospel. Finding their way through this complex deception may take them 20-30 years.
But finally, they will be free. They will believe that real Christianity does indeed exist, but, as J C Ryle taught, Christians are often weak and separated, one here and one there, one in this area and one in that. Their journey to this understanding will be "the way of the Cross", La Via Dolorosa. It may be very, very painful, for unlike Jesus who knew what is in men's hearts, frail humans can be badly deceived for a time at least, particular by the false and/or irresponsible who often get into positions of leadership and teaching in the Church. At times, all they will have to guide them will be a sense of unease over a puzzling discrepancy between what is being taught and the Word of God.
They are in very challenging territory as believers, not just in the world, but even more so in the visible "Church". But if these young people are "the elect", they will have and find the Light, even at great personal cost, and they will, through being faithful to a faithful God, find others who also walk in the Light. In these days, that victory will be won against all the odds, and even snatched from the very jaws of defeat.
False Christianity must repent or die. If it does not repent, it will be uncovered in shame and then swept away. For Judgement begins with "the Church" and that means the false parts of the visible Church.
To close, I quote the Latin Poet Horace who wrote:
The man who is tenacious of purpose in a rightful cause is not shaken from his firm resolve by the frenzy of his fellow citizens clamoring for what is wrong, or by the tyrant's threatening countenance.
Horace Odes Book III, Ode iii, line 1