Faith in Christ, Plus :: by Desiree Effner

I recognize now, that throughout my life my faith in Christ has been accompanied by something more. Something, that for all practical purposes, no longer exists. That something cannot be reduced to a single word or characterization. But it’s like looking through a kaleidoscope that is no longer bright with sunshine; the once beautiful crystalline colors no longer stand out. They won’t fall into place properly.

Now I stand beside myself and realize the problem was the direction which I was aiming. I was aiming horizontally instead of toward the sun. In my faith, I was too earthly minded. Can well-meaning Christians be that peculiarly wrong? Especially those who shed tears when they hear the national anthem?

I’m so weary of the email alerts I receive from various ministries, detailing the terrifying persecution going on in countries where Allah and Marx are worshipped instead of Christ. Every moment I mull over their circumstances which remind me and take me back to the two weeks it took for Terri Schiavo to expire.

Death was nigh. The cavalry didn’t come. She suffered. So did her family. It’s the wrong time in history to have the cards dealt that way—for her and for the martyrs overseas. I feel impotent in the face of such all-prevailing wickedness.

The emails beg me to intercede on behalf of these tortured Christians. With prayer, of course, but also by sending emails to government agents. (Now there’s an idea!)

This is why I often feel useless… adrift. I’m an American. Online, no less. I’m a citizen of the most powerful, efficient (and that’s as important) nation ever. Yet it no longer matters. There was a time when the force of what was distinctly American held sway; the ideals, the systemic influence we had throughout the entire world’s lively superstructure, all that our country and flag and hopes and dreams stood for.

We could inundate the embassies and the newspapers with our outrage for all that was going on in these faraway lands. We could demand reprisals, retribution, recompense, change. And they had to listen. We were right. They knew it. We were the world’s hegemon. They knew that, too.

But no longer. The spirit of America isn’t merely sullied with the typical corruption of Washington. Political and business demons now utterly control the land. The fruit of their spirits hunger for power that cannot be satiated, flaunting unmitigated greed. Its foundation is an idealism that promotes the brotherhood of Man in an entirely humanistic, materialistic manner, or at least presents a facade of that.

But it is also the so-called honor among thieves. These puny, soulless nothings actually produce nothing more than a survivor show. They are strutting their way to inevitable oblivion. Unbeknownst to them, their quest to obliterate America will not preclude their expendability. They are silly, banal monsters exquisitely dressed to kill. And headed for the slaughter, too.

The evil people who torture our brothers and sisters in Christ can laugh at our attempts to expose them and stop them—because America has nothing to say about anything anymore. They need never fear our stern demeanor again. Professors only have sternness when they castigate America. Our enemies own us. We are reduced to being paper kittens.

Is that the end of the story, though? Now I see how much I’ve crazily relied on America’s stature in the world to believe God would answer prayers. We are not like the poor dirt-encrusted Christians in third world lands who get on their knees to pray. I do not get on my knees; it’s too uncomfortable.

What is it like for a Somali Christian to pray for an imprisoned brother in China?

His hope is completely in the Lord.

He can say the same prayer, using the same Scripture as I do. That’s it. I sit and pray and send an email or two. And deep down inside I believe my greater knowledge of that prisoner’s situation, my deeper understanding of the forces of history, and my conviction that Americans, more than anyone else, can make things happen, gives me the fleshly confidence to persevere in the typical American way of doing business with the Lord.

But it doesn’t work anymore. On this precipice where we stand, looking down into the cataclysmic abyss we all anticipate, I can no longer summon self-confidence. Instead I point my gaze heavenward and pray for Him to reveal His light, His beauty and purposes. Soon we may be dirt-encrusted third-worlders ourselves, devoid of flag apparel, freedom, justice, Bibles.

We must remember: Our poor brothers and sisters over there are also praying for us. They follow in the footsteps of the Master. Now we may also get the chance to say, with Paul, “…the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). We’ll know the fellowship of suffering that accompanies His resurrection power.

We are in Jeremiah’s time. The remnant then was called to leave their God-given light-on-a-hill land to dwell in Babylon. Judgment and cleansing had to happen. Those who fought God’s purposes lost everything. Stupidly, they actually returned to Egypt!

Hopefully, our “exile” will be our entry into heaven. In the meantime, we have much gospel-advancing work to do. Regardless of circumstances, we must be so occupied.