For years Lights! Camera! Action! has been the call on the movie sets of our world as the crew begin another ‘take.’
Christians live on a world-stage where the performance is not make-believe but the profession of a living testimony where Christ is ‘clearly portrayed’ (Galatians 3:1).
The context in which Paul wrote was one of …
- Disappointment of wasted effort in what stands undone because it was abandoned – ‘I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you’ (Gal. 4:11).
- Distraction of worldly wisdom, so subtle yet so strong to close God’s voice in favour of ‘other’ voices – ‘After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?’ (Gal. 3:3).
- Deception of wickedness in plundering and poisoning the masses, calling what is good, ‘wicked’ – ‘Who has bewitched you?’ (Gal. 3:1).
- Desertion of workers who once toiled for the gospel – ‘I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ’ (Gal. 1:6).
We too, in our day, face the same pressures and suffer the same challenges: We need another ‘take’…our own version of ‘Lights! Camera! Action!’ Not a new call – but a renewed, rediscovered call to attention, concentration and demonstration.
Take # 1: ‘Lights!’
In a generation that is the most watched in all of history, some would imagine that we have enough illumination. However such is only artificial light, humanly manufactured, giving a false reflection.
How dark are the deeds of these days – just when we suppose humanity cannot sink any deeper in what we are capable of and condone, and society has reached the limit of desperation in what it will allow and endorse.
In these dark days, Jesus is often rejected on the grounds of ‘enlightened credibility and integrity.’ The rejection, however, is not intellectually based but morally based, because the light that is Christ always reveals the credibility-gap and the integrity-lapse of our own hearts, minds and souls.
Jesus says: ‘This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God’ (John 3:19-21).
How we need the light to show the way, tell the truth, and save us from ourselves. The reality of light and its result are the same: the darker it becomes the brighter the light shines! In his gospel account, John says of Jesus: ‘The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it’ (John 1:5).
One evening before retiring to bed, Thomas Binney looked at the sky. The sun was setting and the stars were just beginning to shine. In that moment he realised that as the sky was never without light, so is the world…even ‘Christ, the light of the world’ (John 8:12). Before sleep came that night, Binney wrote the hymn Eternal Light! Which declares: Eternal Light! How pure the soul must be. When, placed within thy searching sight, it shrinks not, but with calm delight, Can live and look on thee.’
Take # 2: ‘Camera!’
Cameras observe and record. In these days the whole world can witness events as they unfold. From the horror that takes place across the world, from the harshness on our streets to the hurt within our own homes. We are living in desperate times where the unbelievable happens and the long considered immovable has disappeared.
The camera can observe and record but it can never explain. In Psalm 11:3, David quotes the common question of his day: ‘When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?’
That’s still true today – consider what we’ve done to the environment, how we have abused our economy, how our children are now educated, how nearly all of us find our entertainment – ‘foundations are being destroyed.’
More than once Proverbs counsels: ‘Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.’ We have long lived in a church-day when ‘the foundations are being destroyed.’ For example:
- If not moved out, then preaching is moved to the side. In many ‘modern’ churches the pulpit is no longer at the centre, if there at all. Thus preaching is diminished in priority and depth!
- Doctrine is relegated as truth is substituted for ‘togetherness!’
- Reverence left the building long ago when worship became entertainment and the altar a stage!
- ‘Come as you please! Dress as you please! Do as you please! Believe as you please! Live as you please!’
- We not only perform weddings between professing Christians and non-believers, but we ‘bless’ them.
- We give way on sexual purity and allow adulterers-after-conversion to remain in the pulpit and continue on our boards.
- We fudge on church discipline where it does matter and fall out over what doesn’t matter.
- From the homosexual to the Muslim, we are scared to be who and who’s we are, in case it offends!
Who do we think we are to edit God’s standards, reset his boundaries, re-lay his foundations and think he will allow it? David supplies the answer in verse 4: ‘The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them.’
There is a ‘rock’ that ‘causes men to stumble…and makes them fall’ (see Isaiah 8:14) when they try to dislodge and destroy. In the Old Testament God is referred to as the ‘Rock’ and the New Testament tells the rock is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).
Jesus said that to believe him is to be ‘like a wise man who built his house on the rock…it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock’ (Matthew 7:24ff).
When Peter perceived that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus replied: ‘On this rock – (the revelation of who I am) – I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it’ (Mathew 16: 17-18).
Martin Luther wrote in that stirring hymn of the church, A Safe Stronghold our God is Still: ‘And though they take our life, goods, honour, children, wife, Yet is their profit small; These things shall vanish all: The City of God remaineth!’
Take # 3: ‘Action!’
Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, ‘If it were possible to put the Holy Spirit into a textbook of pharmacology, I would put him under the stimulants, for that is where he belongs!’
Vance Havner spoke of the urgency of the day and the seriousness of the hour, but that God’s people were neither! We cannot afford the luxury of continuing to be ‘asleep in the light’, being at ease in our ‘Zion’, or even just circling the wagons until Jesus comes back! Christ is worthy of more, the world is in need of more, and Christians have been saved for more!
None of us will be unaware of the never-ending steps the UK and USA have made in regard to ‘redefining marriage,’ honouring homosexuals, especially when they ‘come out’ and hammering any who dare to question and oppose, especially Bible-believing Christians, who are the only true Christ-ones!
This is indeed a water-shed moment that had to come. It is now not only unpopular and anti-social to be a Christian, but, in both these countries, it is official government policy to be ‘anti-Christian.’ All is not lost, and there is great hope… because the darker it becomes, the brighter the light in the darkness also becomes, and, in the words of Hebrews 12:26ff, a ‘shaking of what can be removed, so that what cannot, will remain.’
We have now entered a time where only the genuine Christian will continue to stand for Christ – which will also identify and oust the Sunday-Pew-Warmer-Christian and thus restore costly credibility to the church!
These are days of intimidation but also the promise of overcoming where ‘the righteous will live by faith’ (Hebrews 10:38).
C S Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity: ‘Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed; you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.’
Corrie Ten Boom prayed for us all when she prayed ‘Father, You know how much I need to be filled with your strength. You know how weak I am in myself. Thank you that it is possible to be strong in you!’ (From Strength For Your Day):
Let’s all go for that renewed and rediscovered ‘take!’ Let’s sabotage the enemy’s camp!
Stuart D Reynolds is a revivalist and author, pastoring in Derbyshire, England and ministering in the UK and USA. Link: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recommended – The Broken Pastor. This is the voice of a pastor speaking candidly to the ear of the church regarding the reality that many pastors are hurting, even on the edge of quitting due to feeling like a failure having had the last embers of self-worth kicked and stamped out of them.
Stuart Reynolds writes from the heart and pastoral experience encouraging broken pastors that they are not useless, that they can move on and still benefit the kingdom despite the reality of foolish congregational censure and non-appreciative boards that don’t understand the challenges that pastors face. This is a timely read for the whole church.