If Not Now, When? Will We Bear His Standard?

Lisa Cherry —  April 16, 2016

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Last week, Mississippi's Republican governor, Phil Bryant, signed a new religious freedom bill into law. This was on the heels of another bold act by North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory, who signed House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, on March 23. Both of these governors’ actions set off a firestorm of controversy that lit up the online newsfeed with debate as the conservative Christian view of their actions and in these bills seems pretty clear. These men are heroes. And for very good reason.

For in spite of the massive backlash they may face, these courageous men are willing to say a distinct "no." Today as never before we need more of these heroes who are willing to stand up and say,

“No, I will not agree that fifty-eight gender identities are normal.”

“No, I will not agree that anyone can marry anyone and God says it’s okay.”

“No, I do not believe that a woman has a right to kill a baby just because.”

“No, I do not believe all roads lead to God and all religions are therefore ‘peaceful.’”

“No, I will not arbitrarily deny the reality of gender in DNA.”

“No, I will not tell my children that however, whenever, and with whomever they want to have sex is totally up to them to decide.”

“No, I will not alter 2,000 plus years of biblical interpretation for the sake of those among us who want a new deal.

“No, I will not pretend that “free love” is loving, or that “politically correct” is correct, or that “tolerance” is tolerant, or that “social justice” is just.

We must choose to stand with courage and answer a just plain "no." We will not be tricked, coerced, bribed or threatened. We will not change and we will not move. And, no matter what anyone says, we are not going to apologize and we are not sorry.

Oh that felt good to express that, didn't it? The volcanic pressure building inside us yearns to address the darkness that has enveloped our land like a flood, and to expose it for what it is: a massive spiritual deception. We might fantasize about walking through the public square and asking complete strangers, "Excuse me, but can you agree that something has gone terribly wrong in our land and our world? Can you see it? Are you aware? Wickedness, sin, and lawlessness are flooding our streets, and it is dangerous and deeply disturbing!" But will we actually do it?

That is why we look for heroes who do what we dream about.

This is an Isaiah 59:19 moment in history. The enemy has come in like a flood sweeping our families and friends off their feet and toppling foundational beliefs that have endured for thousands of years with its tsunami force. We are desperate for the Lord to make good on His promise in the second half of this often quoted Bible verse:

" When the enemy comes in like a flood...the spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19

We are eagerly awaiting the Spirit of the Lord to do His work and squash the devil's schemes. It is as if we are saying, "We need some massive angelic assistance down here, Lord. We need You to show up with Your heavenly host to put dark perverse forces on the run and set leaders in place to save the day. And we need it like yesterday, please!"

So we get excited when we see courageous acts such as these of these two governors and think someone might be functioning as an agent for this God work.

But is it possible that while we have been waiting for God to do something supernaturally miraculous to stop the flood, God has something else in mind? Could it be that He is raising up a standard and that standard is actually us, the common ordinary Christians, who take the Isaiah 59:19 promise through the grid of our New Testament realities? For according to the words of Jesus and the entire doctrine of the New Testament, we are His agents on the earth.

So while we are crying out for Him to do something about the darkness, He is saying, "You step into the flood, because when you do, I, in you, will raise up the standard against the enemy's best plans.”

So, I agree with those who are offering support of Mississippi Governor Bryant. Indeed he has taken his part as a standard bearer. But the question becomes, will we do the same in our own lives when we are called to be the Standard?

Somehow it is easier to remain in our cozy armchairs, to criticize the people we think should have stood in the flood and failed. Go ahead and get mad at Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal who, according to our view, seemed to wimp out.

But let's get honest. When the issues get closer to home, we sometimes shake in our own pious boots. Stepping into the flood and becoming a standard bearer is not comfortable, popular or risk-free. Sure, not many of us are like the leaders of North Carolina who have over 100 major American business leaders breathing economic threats down their backs at the hands of the Human Rights Campaign LGBT activist group. Not many of us are feeling the pressure of PayPal or Pepsi or the NBA. But that does not mean our standard bearing role is insignificant.

The honest truth is that most of us are struggling with the inconvenient cost of our "less glamorous" roles. We don't want to be labeled bigots or haters. We don't want our family or friends to reject us with our views. We don't want to risk our jobs, suffer economically or be inconvenienced.

So we play the game. We do nothing while the loud minority seems willing to lay everything down.

Oh, we cajole ourselves with the line that our "little man actions" will do nothing significant to raise up a standard. Hey, what can a few million of us do anyway, we chide ourselves, while the activists smugly call the shots?

Cancel our own Paypal account? How disruptive!

Give up our Starbucks? You've got to be kidding!

Get involved politically? How utterly useless!

So, I guess the plans of the enemy work, and we sit home complaining it is all out our control.

We stay at our post on the sidelines of the battle cheering the standard bearers who dare to wade in. But maybe it is time to do more than cheer. History will record what each of us does with our own standard-bearing moments. Some of us will embrace the cost to take our place as the Dietrich Bonhoeffers of our generation who, even in the face of death, refuse to back down. Others will be like the German establishment church, who rolled right in with the darkness in fear of personal inconvenience and suffering.

Oh, I can predict the objection to the previous paragraph's comparison: Don't be so melodramatic! We are just talking about bathrooms for goodness sake. To which I would say, "That's ridiculous and incredibly naive!" The dark flood that is steamrolling our generation is after every bit of holiness God designed. It is Romans chapter one. This screeching voice of change wants nothing less than complete lawlessness to rule. And we, as believers, should be able to see into the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:1-4) that is at work.

So, if not now, then when? If we cannot be inconvenienced and suffer now, what makes us think we will do it then? Will we suddenly get brave when we are faced with a little mark that, without which, we will not be able to buy and sell? Will we get ready to face our fears, laziness and insecurities later when the threat gets a little more “real”?

How much more intense do the threats need to get?

You see our little idea of screaming “NO!” is only part of the needed answer. We as the church of Jesus Christ will also need a strong "YES" if we are really to be able to step into the flood as the standard. We will need to say,

“Yes Lord, we will take up our cross daily.”

“Yes, we will embrace the persecution that Jesus promised would be ours.”

“Yes, we will prepare our lives as one of Your five wise virgins.”

“Yes, we will receive Your power to be the standard in this most critical hour.”

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P.S. On Thursday I had a chance to share the message of Like a Flood on the Harvest Show. Click on the links below to see that interview.

Lisa Cherry | Harvest Show Interview Part 1 | 4/14/2016

Lisa Cherry | Harvest Show Interview Part 2 | 4/14/2016

 

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* * * Excerpt from Like a Flood * * *

Our nation has clearly made a wrong turn. If America's greatness has in any way been tied to our worship of Almighty God and our promotion of godly morality and character, we, by very definition, are in trouble.

But the condition of our nation is only a part of the dark flood story. Over the course of human history, nations come and go So American's sowing toward wickedness will inevitably create a harvest of wickedness. How horrible! None of us want this to happen.