Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

God Turns the Page

RUSSIAN SAINTS

God has such a sense of humor!  While many believers in the USA have been brought to despair by their choices in an upcoming presidential election, one can hardly believe what’s happening in the once “godless” Land of the Tsars.  It’s seldom reported here, but there is a nuclear explosion of faith unfolding in Russia!  More than 70% of the Russian people now identify with the Church, and President Vladimir Putin long ago renounced atheism to join the Orthodox Church.

Even as US congregations grope to find their way through the shadow lands of same-sex marriage, transgender restrooms, and mainstream resentment of churches, Russia seems to be in a renaissance of traditional values.  I obviously have no idea how sincere Mr. Putin is in his faith, but here’s what he says about society: “We must protect Russia from that which has destroyed American society.”  He’s talking about anti-Christian secularism.

We have finally bid farewell to that era when the USA was the World Center of Christianity. That doesn’t mean we will never enjoy spiritual revival: I pray that we do.  But it suggests that much bigger movements of God are afoot in distant shores.  The ground beneath us is shifting and powerful forces are driving the Gospel in new directions.

  • The engine of church growth and renewal is relentless in Africa today.  In the face of militant Islam stalking some nations with violence and intimidation, the Christian faith is like a tidal wave of love and worship sweeping across the continent.  There are literally megachurches whose pastors urge members to stay home occasionally so that more new believers can be accommodated in their jammed worship centers.
  • The biggest church in the world is still in China. Recent reports of intense, new political crackdowns on Chinese pastors suggest the saints are once again multiplying at rates considered out of control.
  • In Iran, a vast and growing population of Jesus-followers are worshiping together weekly and quietly awaiting the fall of the hateful Imams.
  • And then there’s Russia…!

Here in the States, we would do well to take our cue from the saints beyond our borders who are rocking this world.  Our destiny does not rest in the hands of either a Democratic insider or a Republican outsider, and we must stop wringing our hands as though God has lost control.  The Lord hasn’t lost any clout, but he may well have lost interest in American churches as flat as a three day old Coke.  The Creator has nothing left to prove: it’s we in the church who have something to prove.

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.  Joel 2: 12 – 13

Let’s stop praying for a new candidate in the race, and begin to pray for a new heart in the church.

And lift up the Cross!

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