We have just come off a very positive weekend where we had a combined Church service and activities with the local UCG congregations. A powerful reminder of our calling and responsibilities. Now to continue the race.
The author of Hebrews uses a useful analogy in describing living the godly way of life in a difficult world. “… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). This race is not a short sprint, but a marathon – a life-long race.
To enhance our appreciation of this analogy, compare two separate reports which were published this week. Firstly, from the Pew Research Center:
“The secularizing shifts evident in American society so far in the 21st century show no signs of slowing. The latest Pew Research Center survey of the religious composition of the United States finds the religiously unaffiliated share of the public is 6 percentage points higher than it was five years ago and 10 points higher than a decade ago. Christians continue to make up a majority of the U.S. populace, but their share of the adult population is 12 points lower in 2021 than it was in 2011. In addition, the share of U.S. adults who say they pray on a daily basis has been trending downward, as has the share who say religion is ‘very important’ in their lives.”
God is becoming increasingly meaningless in a society that has very shallow roots due to secularizing shifts. Secondly, a report that begins with an older article from the New York Times of 1989:
“On October 25, 1989, a mere two months after Poland’s pivotal election, the New York Times published an article, headlined ‘The Mainstreaming of Marxism in US Colleges,’ describing a strange and seemingly paradoxical phenomenon. Even as the world’s great experiment in Marxism was collapsing for all to see, Marxist ideas were taking root and becoming mainstream in the halls of American universities. The New York Times reported ‘the Mainstreaming of Marxism in US Colleges’ 30 years ago. Today, we see the results. ‘As Karl Marx’s ideological heirs in Communist nations struggle to transform his political legacy, his intellectual heirs on American campuses have virtually completed their own transformation from brash, beleaguered outsiders to assimilated academic insiders,’ wrote Felicity Barringer.
A huge part of today’s culture is a consequence of this movement. Widespread ‘wokeness,’ all-pervasive identity politics, victimism, cancel culture, rioters self-righteously destroying people’s livelihoods and menacing passersby: all largely stem from Marxist presumptions (especially Marxism’s distorted fixations on oppression and conflict) that have been incubating in the universities, especially since the late 80s.
The lesson of 1989 is that today’s culture and ideas are tomorrow’s politics and policies.”
Could it be that these two reports connect and help explain today’s playing field? One has produced the other.
Our race includes many obstacles. Which means that we need the indwelling power of God’s Spirit to be able to keep running. Not only to keep running, but to be able to see the obstacles. Most members of the general public are unaware of the subtle seeds that have been planted in the educational institutions over a long time. However, we have the Spirit of knowledge, wisdom and understanding so we can understand the track on which we run. We are able to connect the dots.
All this means that as we come off an important Holy Day season, we need to stay close to what we have rehearsed. We need the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. We need God’s guidance to navigate the course set before us. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and learn not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.