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Have We Lost Our Nerve?

  • Have you and I as Christians lost our nerve? Have we forgotten that the best way to transform society is God’s way'
  • How often must we be reminded that the cross of Christ alone can change the human heart and reconcile people to God'
  • God’s power is more clearly seen in the message of the cross than anywhere else.

Now, please don’t read this as my asking you to retreat from politics, community activism, and public forums. But you and I dare not think that we need only apply ourselves more vigorously to these methods in order to rescue mankind from the brink of disintegration. Only the cross, demonstrated in life and lip, can do what needs to be done.

Recently I preached a series, Taking the Cross Into the World, at the Moody Church. In these messages I share my heart, urging all of us to remember that we have in our possession “the power of God unto salvation.”

We both know that we have enough Christians in America who, if they took the cross seriously, could join with us in making a lasting impact in the lives of millions of people. If this is done with humility, I believe God would honor us.

Taking the Cross Into the World means more than just evangelizing; or I should say, it means evangelizing with integrity. I’m talking about you and me, living the gospel in all of our relationships!

It means modeling reconciliation between races; it involves helping the homeless, the widows, and single mothers. In short, it means being Christ to a cynical world that has written us off because of our hypocrisy and obvious self-interest.

If you and I were to live differently, along with our Christian brothers and sisters in this country, the world might take note. You know, we do, after all, have some historical examples of how nations have been transformed:

Britain in the 1700s

In the early 1700s Britain had sunk into gross cruelty and drunkenness. Since the treatment of children is always a rather accurate barometer of a nation’s morality, the story of Judith Dufour is an example of others that could be told. She took her child to a work house for clothing. She then strangled the child, threw the body in the ditch, sold the clothes for one shilling and four pence and immediately spent the money on gin, which she shared with a friend who helped in the murder.

Parliament, on numerous occasions, had to adjourn early because “the Honorable members were too drunk to continue the business of State.”

Children were routinely murdered and infants left to “perish in the streets.”

Then God raised up George Whitefield and John Wesley. God graciously sent a national revival that changed the entire climate of the country. Moral decency and kindness supplanted debauchery and cruelty. Britain, the historians tell us, was spared from what happened in France during its bloody “revolution.”

Now, please join me in thinking of our own country.

New England and the Great Awakening

New England was in a state of moral and spiritual decline. Church attendance had dropped off and the morals of the young had sunk to new lows. Worldly values infiltrated the church.

Under the preaching of Edwards and Whitefield, the Great Awakening came to America. An historian wrote that one could have left a bag of gold on the streets and it would not have been stolen! Sailors coming from Britain were known to have fallen on their knees in repentance before their ship docked; such was the power of God.

Now, I’m not saying to you that God will send a similar revival to America. He does not owe us such mercy … But maybe if we get our priorities straight, He might yet be gracious to this great nation. If we are desperate enough, and are willing to pay a great personal price, God might yet rescue many from the judgment to come.

You and I must be ready to make a radical commitment! It involves nothing less than living for the glory of God, even if our nest is disturbed! We must learn to distinguish between the American dream and the Christian mandate! Together, you and I must be fervently committed to sharing the gospel whenever God opens the door; on airplanes, with our neighbors, relatives, and anyone else God brings into our lives.

Our task is simple yet profound. It is to explain the cross to a generation steeped in designer religion; an age in which people have been duped to believe that they can “find their own way to God.”

You may have read what Bonhoefer said, “It is not before us, but before the cross that the world trembles.” I agree. Whether God sends a revival or not, we must be faithful in presenting “the old rugged cross.”

The world can out-spend us, out-entertain us, and out-politicize us, but let it never be said that they can out-love us!

Erwin Lutzer, The Moody Church Radio Ministries newsletter, Chicago, Illinois, March, 1997