Perhaps you recognize the partial quote on the carrier envelope. It’s from President Lincoln’s address to Congress in December of 1862, still relatively early into what remains the bloodiest conflict in American history. A fuller excerpt reads,
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew…
Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history….The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation… We—even we here—hold the power, and bear the responsibility….We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”
I find Lincoln’s words relevant and poignant at multiple points. Why? Because you and I are living in a time of unprecedented change. Not only is the volume, momentum, and complexity of change changing, but even change is changing. What this means is that the current mental “reality” maps of many thinking Christians and their corresponding “thought worlds” are facing increasing cognitive dissonance as the spiritual, moral, and cultural landscape is morphing before their eyes at a dizzying pace.
At home, the collapse of traditional values has contributed to social realities once deemed unthinkable. Same-sex marriages…mass shootings…the highest incarceration rate in the world…alarming increases in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and heroin use…and increasingly strident attacks on Christians from militant atheists constitute just a short list of external maladies that mirror the internal decadence of our collective spiritual and moral condition. Increasingly submerged by a relentlessly rising tide of secularism and scientism, a shrinking evangelical church now looks at a once familiar landscape twisted and torn by a tsunami of change and asks, “What on earth has happened?”
Abroad and at home, Islamic Jihadists once largely confined to caves in remote mountains now boldly attack innocent people on the streets of Paris and San Bernardino. Meanwhile, they successfully recruit Westerners to join their demented ranks that inflict sexual slavery, death, and destruction on an appalling scale—all in the name of Islam. As capitals around the world brace themselves for increasing attacks by suicidal terrorists willing to blow up themselves along with others in the name of Allah, it is clear that once again “the occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion.”
As coworkers in our Lord’s service (1 Cor. 3:9), let us renounce and forever abandon escapist cop-outs that declare “I can do nothing; it’s all up to God.” As faithful stewards of the time, talent, and treasure He has entrusted to us, let us indelibly understand that while we cannot do His part, He will not do ours.
With these thoughts in mind, I want to set the stage for a theme of sorts for this new year. And that’s underscoring the criticality of orthopraxis (right doing) to orthodoxy (right belief).
In short, as CRI endeavors to equip you and countless other believers, I’ll encourage you repeatedly to be sure you’re within the ranks of “kingdom change agents” who do more than just think seriously about our world. They do so in order to change it.