What do we do when faced with an seemingly overwhelming enemy? What do we do when the situation seems black? Do we trust God or trust ourselves? Christianity in the United States has for some time been going through a crisis. There have been various ways of responding to this crisis. Some good and many not so good. Some Christians have responded with extremes of accommodation, even though Scripture warns against this (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4; Romans 12:1,2). Others have reacted with extremes of hostility, even though Scripture also forbids this (2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 4:5,6). Still others have tended to trust in their own organization and methods to carry the day (Psalms 127:1,2; 1 Corinthians 2:1,2; Isaiah 31:1). How then should we approach this?
In the Old Testament we see many times when the nation of Israel was faced with attacks from foreign enemies. And they faced a choice: should they trust in their ability and their strategy (2 Chronicles 16:1-12; 25:5-16; 28:16-21) or trust in God (2 Chronicles 14:9-15; 20:5-25; 32:1-23)? In the same way we face the same challenge today: will we trust in God (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 37:3-6; Isaiah 40:31) or will we trust our own strategies, like those mentioned above? Now God is in control of the world (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28; Isaiah 43:13), and He will preserve His people and His message (Romans 11:5; Matthew 16:18; Jude 3).
Nor is this a mere claim, but it is borne out in church history. The Romans tried to persecute the Christian church out of existence, but it endured and ultimately triumphed. Soon thereafter it looked like the Arians (those who denied the deity of Christ) had control of the government and would impose their beliefs on the church, but the situation ultimately turned back around. At the time of the fall of Rome, the area was inundated with peoples who were pagan and Arian and who conquered the existing population, but they were ultimately converted. In the middle of the Middle Ages, the established church had become lackadaisical and was threatened by Islam from without and challenges from philosophy and false theology from within, but it made it through. The Renaissance saw a church riddled by corruption and dominated by bad doctrine, but the Protestant Reformation arose to restore genuine Christianity. The Enlightenment, with its bent toward humanistic philosophical beliefs such as Deism, threatened to depart from historic Christianity, but the great revivals and awakenings acted to prevent this. The nineteenth century, with the advent of Darwinism and Higher Criticism, threatened to secularize society, but it failed of its object. Even in recent times it looked like Communism would stand in permanent opposition to Christianity, and many felt it would ultimately conquer; then the Wall fell. Today we are faced with a similar crisis, but I see every reason to believe that God will once more bring us through. But we need to trust Him and not our own abilities and resources.