Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. (Hebrews 12:26)
When I read these words in Hebrews recently I felt that we Christians need to take heart that although the world is doing its utmost to deter us we are citizens of an eternal Kingdom that will never be shaken. We may be stirred but if we hold fast we will not be shaken!
Indeed, we read in Hebrews 12 that a day is coming when it will be the world and all created things that will be shaken and destroyed.
The Scripture challenges us to stand firm in our faith and not to give in to the world’s attempts to mock us, seduce us or destroy us. The world’s attack on Christianity is being orchestrated on two fronts. There is a sophisticated campaign to discredit Biblical values and teachings by portraying them as ignorant, outdated, repressive and insensitive. There is also an unprecedented campaign of terror and intimidation that is being waged against Christians that is largely ignored by world governments and media.
As Christains we believe that the word of God in the Bible provides us with keys to living a blessed life now and for eternity. It is interesting to look at what is happening in society in some of the arenas in which the world has succeeded in undermining Biblical values.
For instance God says all human life is precious and a gift from him but the world says birth is a matter of human choice. According to recent statistics 42 million babies are aborted every year. One out of four babies conceived in the United States is aborted — mostly because of “inconvenience”. In Russia 45% of babies conceived are aborted. It varies from country to country: one in five in the United Kingdom, one in three in China. In my own country, South Africa, the proportion is relatively lower at one in 17 but it is common to see posters on street poles and bus shelters advertising abortions and teenagers may have abortions without informing their parents.
The world scorns the Biblical view that sex is intended as something wonderful to be shared between husbands and wives. Apparently 96 per cent of sex on TV and movies takes place outside of marriage. The pornography industry earns 97 billion US dollars a year — more than the combined revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink. Three billion US dollars a year is spent on child pornography. A growing number of people — sadly including many Christians — confess to being bound by addiction to porn. All of this in the name of “freedom”!
The Biblical notion that God intended marriage to be a sacred union between a man and woman is under increasing attack. Christians who hold a Biblical view of marriage are called narrow minded, homophobic, offensive and bigots. The world’s idea that gay marriages are an equal lifestyle choice to traditional marriages is being increasingly taught in schools and people who challenge this dogma face lawsuits or losing their jobs. The US is bowing to the new worldview by introducing passport forms that replace the words “mother” and “father” with “parent 1” and “parent 2”. At the same time statistics show that in various parts of the world marriage rates are declining and divorce rates are increasing.
The grinding poverty in which most of the people of the world live despite our technological advances and supposedly enlightened humanistic ideologies, are tragic evidence that our world is being stirred by dark forces. One out of two children in the world live in poverty and 22 000 children die every day due to poverty. A quarter of humanity live without electricity. At the other end of the scale 0.13% of the world’s population control a quarter of the world’s financial assets and the wealthiest 12% of the world use 85% of its water.
Meanwhile the world’s great scientists and intellectuals mock the Biblical assertion that God created everything, and boast that their discoveries are unlocking the secrets of creation. Yet in truth the more deeply science probes the wonders of outer and inner space, the more the evidence points to intelligent design of all things. Even the simplest single cell organisms reveal layers of complexity that rule out the popular theory that they were early building blocks in the evolution of species through random mutations and natural selection. Likewise the fossil record defies the world’s scientists by providing no record of gradual evolutionary changes.
As I mentioned earlier, the world’s onslaught against Christianity extends to terror and intimidation. In fact, persecution facing Christians is the largest “human rights” violation issue in today’s world. According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith. Estimates vary on the number of Christians who are killed because of their faith but indications are that it is between 100 000 to 200 000 annually, with most of the killings occuring in Muslim countries. Muslim converts to Christianity face death sentences in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and Malaysia. Ironically, Christianity has been growing phenomenonally in China despite decades of persecution: currently there are an estimated 130 to 180 million Protestant Christians in China and indications are that the Government has accepted that there is no way to turnback the Christian tide.
When the writer to the Hebrews wrote that “we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakeable” he was encouraging Christians to stand firm in their faith no matter what trials they faced. He was urging them not to give up the magnificent eternal inheritance that Jesus had purchased for them at great cost in exchange for man-made idols that would be destroyed when all creation was shaken.
The idols of the modern world: materialism, gratification, “choice” are already showing cracks as they lead to misery, bondage and broken relationships in this age. Christians stand firm. Jesus is the answer for everyone. Nobody who calls on his name will be turned away. Nobody who holds to the word of God will be shaken. Now is the time to heed the advice of the writer to the Hebrews by being thankful and pleasing God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.