The times are evil. Nothing new! They were evil in the first century (Ephesians 5:15-17). Most of us older adults are accustomed to "evil days" characterizing people "over there." That often meant countries who recognized no god or honored a strange god. "Evil days" occurred in places desperately needing missionaries. We needed to send them so their "evil days" could end.

No longer are "evil days" over there. They are here. A man or woman chooses a spouse on the basis of passion, or looks, or money. Little or no consideration is given to godliness. Husbands and wives war against each other as if God did not exist. Marriages are devastated by unimaginable expressions of faithlessness. Children are great as infants, tolerated prior to adolescence, and a major frustration as teens. "True friends" indulge with us in the pursuit of passions. We trust them to enjoy and keep quiet about it. Life's goals are material--possess, buy, acquire! Security is monetary with a focus on this world and life. "What is it worth? Can I indulge myself with it? Can I retire on it?"

Our great theological issues center on worship forms, not lifestyles. Ironically, the epistles contain little information about worship forms, but heavily emphasize lifestyles. Too many have more confidence in church membership and attendance than in God's incredible accomplishments in Jesus' death. In the church, spiritual priorities are more likely to rest on our preferences than God's will. For many, "restoration" is more concerned about American priorities in the 1900's than Jesus and His first century priorities.

The result? People's lives descend at a quickening rate into the chasm of despair. "What's wrong? I don't understand! Fix it! Make my life happy, my family sound, my spouse loving, or my child kind." In the almost forty-one years that I have worked with the church full time, the anguish is constantly louder and louder.

So we quietly teach, guide, and increase awareness of godly (and ungodly) decisions and focuses. We try to "turn on the light" that will increase understanding of God's light to the world -- Jesus. But even with what I do, what Brad does, what the elders do, and what many of you do, we get further and further behind.

If ever there was a time to pray, it is now. We desperately need godly men and women. Pray! We desperately need Christians who love God more than themselves. Pray! We desperately need Christians who learn from God to love people. Pray! We desperately need to learn how to let God be God. Pray! Consequences must not destroy us. Pray!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 12 January 2003

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