A church friend recently posted a video on Facebook. It is by John Bevere and is titled: What Will Deceive the Elect. You can click the link to watch the video, part of a series Bevere teaches called “Good or God.”
In this clip, Bevere describes a revelation he received from the Lord that not all things that appear good are necessarily Godly. It’s a powerful thought, but Bevere doesn’t flesh it out with examples of what he means, and I suspect even those who Facebook-like the post may not understand what it truly means. So here is an example of what the Lord is telling me.
I received this revelation when I visited the Yad Vashem holocaust museum in Israel. Jewish people lived in Germany for centuries before the holocaust and actually rose to positions of prominence in every aspect of German culture. But something changed. In the years before World War II, a political movement began to discourage Jewish participation in the arts, media, intellectual circles, and even social organizations. German Jews responded to the mainstream culture’s rejection by establishing their own Jewish-only associations. They had their own schools. They had their own artistic and craft guilds. They had their own social organizations. They had business groups. They didn’t just accept rejection by German society; they were proud of their Jewish-only alternatives and even thrived in their own way. At first.
The lesson of Yad Vashem reminded me of the plight of Americans of African descent prior to the civil rights activism of the 1960’s. It’s not that Black Americans lacked everything during segregation. They had their segregated neighborhoods, their black churches, their black entertainment venues; even a Negro Baseball League. A term used to describe segregated America was “separate but equal”, and many Americans thought that was good enough. But African Americans understood that “separate but equal” was not equal at all.
Now back to Germany. What affected the German Jews was not just the inherent inequality of separate but equal. Their situation led to cultural isolation. Their fellow Germans no longer were personal friends who understood Jewish culture and ideals and enjoyed common community. The Jews became ripe for exploitation by the Nazis once there was no-one outside of the Jewish community to stand up for them. They had become foreigners in their own country. The separateness that seemed good to the Jews turned out not being a blessing from God. God had called the Jews to be a witness to the world, but the Jews retreated inward. Millions died.
Is this so different from the situation of American followers of Christ? Have we not also created our own separate but equal subculture in America? We have our own churches. We have our Christian movie industry. We have several genres of Christian music. We have separate schools, Christian radio stations, and even politicians courting the Christian vote. Don’t misunderstand me. These Christian things are all good because they minister to believers, but they don’t minister to anyone beyond the church. They are good, but are they God?
God wanted the Jewish nation to be a witness of God’s power, authority, and ideals to the rest of the world. However, too often the Jewish nation settled instead to be a proudly separated subculture in every country where they settled. Regarding the church, Christ commanded that Believers disciple the nations “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” We can conclude the heart of both the Father and the Son is to spread the gospel rather than preserve it in our separate but equal enclaves.
In recent months, pastors have been asking good questions. Why isn’t the church taking ground from the enemy? Why does the church seem to be ineffective in restoring righteousness in our nation’s culture? Some have suggested there may be “sin in the camp”, an ungodly presence in our congregations that prevents God from honoring our efforts. Some have suggested that we must perfect the church before the church can assume the spiritual authority to correct the nation. Some have suggested that we have quenched the Spirit and are acting in our own power instead of God’s holy power. All of these thoughts are good, but not necessarily God. The part that is not God is that these pastors and others may be looking for a spiritual key to unlock the power of the church, when the answer is more practical and mechanical, albeit with profound spiritual import.
Jesus said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he is the one that loves me.” In the same Gospel, Jesus then commands his disciples to go into all the nations and make more disciples. Do you see the connection? He wants the church to express love by replicating through interaction with people outside of the church. He wants the simple action of obeying His command to disciple and teach lost people.
This doesn’t mean you have to be a street corner evangelist or that you have to abandon your Christian principles. I disciple the nations by producing Biblical worldview radio clips and playing them on secular radio. Thom and Sandy Gumm make secular music at Main Street Music Hall but infuse their performances with God-honoring content. Chick-Fil-A closes every Sunday as a public testimony to honor God’s commands. Bruce and Marsha BonFleur live on the edge of one of the poorest towns in America in order to minister to the Lakota Souix. An important common denominator is you have to be in the world in order to improve the world.
So I’m speaking against Christian separation from the world which seems good, but isn’t God. For our own sake and that of our children, we must not allow the church to become so isolated from the world that we become an easy target for oppression. But more importantly, we have to honor the Lord as being truly the Lord whose commands we obey regardless of difficulty. Any thought that we should reject activity in the world truly is a deception meant to keep the church from taking its rightful place as servants of the most high King.