The Good Old Days

It’s a common practice for people to remember the past in way that makes it seem like there were no (or at least far fewer) problems in the past. Frequently this is in reference to our society and culture and how it impacts our ability to serve God. In connection with this thought, Christians sometimes grumble about how hard it is to serve God in our current society and culture. We are often heard to long for “the good old days” when serving the Lord was easier.
For a few moments, let’s consider some of the environments and cultures where people had to remain faithful to God and see if we still think ours is so bad.

Would we rather serve the Lord…

• In the days of Noah, when only eight people (1 Peter 3:10) in the whole world could be convinced to follow God?

• In society of Sodom and Gomorrah, where not even ten righteous people (Genesis 18:23-26…32…19:24-25) could be found to save the city?

• In Israel, during the time of judges, when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes?” (Judges 17:6, 21:25)

• In the first century, when people were persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ? (Acts 7:57-60, 9:1-2; 22:3-5)

• In the first century when there was no readily available printed Bibles to study and know the whole revelation of God?

• In the first century when visiting other churches and could mean days of walking just to get to the nearest congregation?

• In our recent past, before telephones and computers connected brethren to be able to communicate with one another and encourage one another, even from thousands of miles away?

• In our recent past where many brethren, even in this country met without air conditioning or had to travel to church in vehicles without air conditioning? Or, in countries today, where the same is true?

• In countries today (and in times past in this country) where people don’t have readily available transportation and must walk for miles to worship with God’s people?

• In the recent past when Bibles and bible study tools were not readily available at your fingertips on your computer or your phone?

• Today, in other countries, where Christians must worship in secret for fear of being thrown into prison or killed for their faith?

So, the real question is not whether we have it worse than others. Yes, our society is evil and getting worse. But, Read Romans 1-2 and ask yourself if you think our society is any worse than theirs. Theirs was a society where immorality was not only present, but in many cases part of their idolatrous worship.

The real question is whether we are taking advantage of the opportunities God has given us in this day age and in this society. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) the one-talent servant was condemned because he failed to use the opportunity he had to serve the master and be productive. He wasn’t condemned for his results, but for his lack of effort. Will or excuses of an evil society be any more well received than his excuse that he knew the master was a hard man?

Today is the day that we have. This is the society we live in where have the opportunity to bring glory to God by our service. Will we waste it wishing for days that were not better, just different?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

Advertisements

The Few, The Righteous

One of Jesus’ more famous statements is found in Matthew 7:13-14:

13 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide [is] the gate and broad [is] the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow [is] the gate and difficult [is] the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. [Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV]

When examined in the light of Biblical history, “the few” becomes quite an interesting statement. Standing in a small crowd is not new for those who try to live righteous lives and follow God. Consider some of the following examples:

  • When God chose to bring judgment on the world in the form of the flood, only eight people (1 Peter 3:20 NKJV), Noah and his household, had enough faith to board the ark. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly how many people inhabited the earth at the time of the flood, but considering people were living to be well over 900 years old, it seems reasonable to conclude that it was quite a large number. And, Noah had 100 years (Gen. 5:32Gen. 7:6) to preach to the people of his day (2 Peter 2:5). Can you imagine the scorn and ridicule that Noah faced as he built this huge boat when the world had never seen anything like the flood before (Hebrews 11:7)? And yet, he pressed on because of his faith in God.
  • What about Lot in the cities of Sodom and Gommorah? God would have spared those cities for the sake of only 10 righteous people (Genesis 18:20-33). But, Lot only left the city with his wife and two daughters (Genesis 19:16). His wife didn’t make it very far (vs. 26) and his daughters certainly were not righteous, causing their father to get drunk so they could bear children by him (vs. 31-38). How few were the righteous!
  • Then there was Caleb and Joshua. When the Israelites had an opportunity to take the land that God had promised them, they were the only two of twelve spies that believed they could take the land (Numbers 13:27-14:10). But, more significantly they were only 2 of over 600,000 soldiers (Numbers 2:32) who believed they could take the land God had given them. But, like Noah and his family, they were the only ones of their generation to reap the blessing of their faith. When the people were numbered again at the end of the wanderings in the wilderness, the numbers were similar (Numbers 26:51). However, Joshua and Caleb were the only two people still alive the second time the people were numbered (Numbers 26:64-65).
  • While other examples could be supplied (Elijah, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego, etc.), the greatest example of standing alone is Jesus Christ, our Lord. When the time came for Him to face death the crowds of 5,000+ that once surrounded Him were gone. Even His closest followers had fled (Matthew 26:56), just as Jesus had predicted they would (Matthew 26:31). Peter went so far as to deny Him three times (Matthew 26:69-75). Jesus knew all this would happen, yet had clearly told his disciples He would not turn back from what He came to to do (John 12:27). As Jesus stood before the Jewish council, Herod, and Pilate, He stood completely alone. Aren’t we thankful that his willingness to sacrifice Himself for us was not dependent on whether or not others were willing to stand beside Him?!

Stop and think for a few minutes about times when being counted amongst a very few can tempt us to turn from that which is right. This is not a comprehensive list, but designed to give us pause before we give up our principles because we are among the few:

  • Being part of congregation that is small in number because they stand for truth and are unwilling to compromise the truths of God’s word.
  • Being amongst a small group in school willing to keep yourself pure until you are married. Or, refusing to fill your mind with porn and the filth of dirty jokes and movies.
  • Being one of few unwilling to wear immodest clothing or go to places where large groups of people dress immodestly (public swimming pools, water parks, the beach, etc.).
  • Being unwilling to engage in activities that encourage lust and lead to immoral behavior (cheerleaders, dance teams, dances, etc.)
  • Being unwilling to drink to and socialize in ways that are ungodly and lead immoral relationships (bars, dance halls, frat parties, make-out parties, being alone in tempting locations, etc.)

Dan Fontenot

(editor’s note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)