J.I. Packer has lamented:
At no time, perhaps, since the Reformation have Christians as a body been so unsure, tentative, and confused as to what they should believe and do. Certainty about the great issues of Christian faith and conduct is lacking all along the line. The outside observer sees us as staggering on from gimmick to gimmick and stunt to stunt like so many drunks in a fog, not knowing at all where we are or which way we should be going. Preaching is hazy; heads are muddled; hearts fret; doubts drain our strength; uncertainty paralyzes action. We know in our bones that we were made for certainty, and we cannot be happy without it. Yet unlike the first Christians who in three centuries won the Roman world . . . we lack certainty.1
We lack certainty. And so, like the people in the days of Micah the prophet, we cry, “Do not speak out” (Mic. 2:6, NASB). We shy away from the difficult truth of the hopelessness of the lost, thinking that surely the Word of the Lord brings only good things (Mic. 2:7). We want to present the world with an upbeat message. We want to create a positive image. We want to emphasize the many and substantial benefits of the Christian life. We want to put on a happy face. We want to proclaim a gospel of “peace.”
The problem is “ ‘there is no peace . . . for the wicked’ ” (Isa. 48:22).
A.W. Tozer decries this accommodated version of the gospel as a “spiteful cruelty to the lost and languishing—a cruelty misguidedly offered in the name of comfort.” This updated “message of indifference” does not “slay the sinner; it redirects him.” Furthermore:
It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill-seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of the Christian life.” The idea behind this kind of thing may be sincere, but its sincerity does not save it from being false.
If we refuse the mantle of John the Baptist (Matt. 14:3–12), of Elijah (1 Kings 21:1–25), and of Nathan (2 Sam. 12:1–13) in exposing the evil deeds of darkness in our day, announcing God’s just wrath, and proclaiming the only sure and certain hope, history attests that the suffering of one debilitating Meggido after another is sure to be our lot. “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8) and “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18a, KJV).
It is a terrible indictment that the message of political correctness sounds to us more loving and Christlike than an Edwardslike warning of perdition, judgment, and divine justice. It is a frightful thing that we are more at home with the pleasant, non-confrontational, least-common-denominator messages and methodologies of our culture than we are with the holy alarms of Scripture. It is a senseless tragedy that we have carelessly foisted the fierce injustice of our own recalcitrance upon a hell-bound world.
G.K. Chesterton remarked, “If the world grows too worldly, it can be rebuked by the church; but if the church grows too worldly, it cannot be adequately rebuked for worldliness by the world.”
Strains of that hard truth echoed in my mind when I stood before grieving friends and family members. I knew that if I were to minister to those without hope, I would have to offer them their only hope.