O Lord, Turn Us Again to Thee!
By A. W. Tozer
It is more than probable that in the whole history of the United States there was never at any one time so much religious activity as there is today. And it is also very likely that there was never less true spirituality.
For some reason, religious activity and godliness do not always go together. To discover this, it is only necessary to observe the current religious scene. There is no lack of soul-winning effort surely, but many of the soul-winners give one the impression that they are little more than salesmen for a brand of Christianity that simply does not lead to saintliness.
If this should strike you as being uncharitable, make this little test: kneel down and read reverently the Sermon on the Mount. Let it get hold of your heart. Catch the spiritual "feeling" of it. Try to conceive what kind of person he or she would be who would embody its teachings.
Then compare your conception with the product of the modern religious mill. You will find a wide world of difference both in conduct and in spirit. If the Sermon on the Mount is a fair description of the sort of person a Christian ought to be, then what are we to conclude about the multitudes who have "accepted" Christ but nevertheless exhibit not one moral or spiritual trait such as those described by our Lord?
Now, experience has prepared us for the rebuttal we will surely hear from tender-minded friends: "Who are we to judge? We must leave these professed Christians with the Lord and look to our own doorstep. And furthermore, we should be glad for any little bit of good that is being done and not spoil it by faultfinding:"
All that sounds good, but it is an expression of a religious 'laissez faire' which would stand carelessly by and permit the whole church of Christ to degenerate morally and spiritually without daring to raise a hand to help or a voice to warn. So did not the prophets. So did not Christ, or His apostles, or the Reformers; and so will not any man do who has seen heaven opened and beheld visions of God.
Elijah could have kept his mouth shut and saved himself a lot of trouble. John the Baptist could have kept silent and saved his head; and every martyr might have pleaded 'laissez faire' and died comfortably in his bed at a ripe old age. But in doing so, they would contemptuous of the sober virtues-meekness, modesty, humility, quietness, obedience, self effacement, patience. To be accepted now, religion must be in the popular mood.
Consequently, much religious activity reeks with pride, display, self-assertion, self-promotion, love of gain and devotion to trivial pleasures.
It behooves us to take all this seriously. Time is running out for all of us. What is done must be done quickly. We have no right to lie idly by and let things take their course. A farmer who neglects his farm will soon lose it; a shepherd who fails to look after his flock will find the wolves looking after it for him. A misbegotten charity that allows the wolves to destroy the flock is not charity at all but indifference, rather, and should be known for what it is and dealt with accordingly.
It is time for Bible-believing Christians to begin to cultivate the sober graces and to live among men like sons of God and heirs of the ages. And this will take more than a bit of doing, for the whole world and a large part of the church is set to prevent it. But if God be for us, who can be against us?
Yours in Christ,
Paul N. F.