Silence Is The Enemy Of Truth

We've seen it globally. And we have been warned from certain 'doomsday-sayers' that it was coming to America. But, as a baby-boomer evangelical, I would never believe that we would admit one day that America would be a place where Christianity would come under popular persecution. And even though there have only been a handful if incidences of religious persecution in the past decade among American Christians in the United States, could that trend be changing? If all reports are true, and the latest school shooting in Oregon was based from religious intolerance, the trends certainly could be changing if the church does nothing about the latest pop persecution. Our silence could be the enemy of truth.

Aside from the general degradation of morality in America over the past 50 years, could the persecution of Christians be another sign that we need a Spiritual Awakening? Don't get me wrong. I am not naïve enough to think that America was birthed as a Christian nation. But, there would be little argument that America was, at least, influenced by conservative Christian principles that became a significant part of our heritage. Even in the last 50 years there was hope eternal in retaining our Christian beginnings. Today, however, with the loss of any mainstream clarion call for righteousness, the hope of a national Spiritual Awakening seems to be hanging solely upon the sovereignty of God interrupting America in its downward spiral.

A Generation Living Without An Awakening

Case in point: The teen generation living today has never seen a national Spiritual Awakening. They have not seen a significant or remarkable revival. You would have to go back to the Father's Day Outpouring in Brownsville, Florida in 1995, when every newscast led in with the unusual spiritual awakening that took place and spread throughout the country, and globally, for about 4 years. Most of today's teens were just being born when the Brownsville Revival was ending. 

There are always moments in every society that become 'tipping points'. In culture it might be called a shift or subculture or trend or movement. Sociology would say that a generation brought change with it every 80 years. Then, during the information age, it was said that every 40 years we would see cultural shifts. And over time, with the explosion of the entertainment and the social media age, our generational changes have come within a single decade.

Another 'Tipping point' happens In the church. What we would call an Awakening or a revival.  But, what America is missing, is a true Spiritual Awakening like the First and Second Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries. The term Great Awakening referred to seasons of religious revival in America that brought a wave of increased religious enthusiasm and involvement. When everything happening around us brings a shift in thinking and the spiritual fervor affects a nation.

The Last (and next) Awakening In America

Depending on your definition of an Awakening, and, whether you think the Brownsville Outpouring was the last movement America has seen, we haven't witnessed a significant 'bump' since the 9/11 terror attacks more than 14 years ago. The cultural impact of 9/11 has lasted for more than a decade. With NTSB changes and First Responder Protocols changing the way we deal with crisis. But, the spiritual impact of 9/11 only lasted about 3-5 months. And that is if you believe the most optimistic reports of church attendance going up from September to March directly after the NYC and Washington attacks. We probably saw a more cultural (and global) impact more than we saw a spiritual one from 9/11. If that moment did not change American Spiritual history, what will it take?
These moments can become the most important moments in a society. And I believe the church missed that one. But, are we seeing another major 'tipping point' in the past 4 years with the increase of religious persecution and the lack of social and government concern?
This past week in Oregon while students were attending school, a heavily armed shooter charged the Umpqua Community College (UCC) classroom and demanded that students get on the ground. He then ordered them to stand up and declare their religion. Depending on how each student answered the gunman, they were either shot and killed or shot and injured. “If they would stand up and say they were Christian, he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,” Anastasia Boylan said in a televised report on Fox News. “And then he shot and killed them.” Not every school shooting is about religious intolerance. But, we can all agree that we have lost control of our nation when we have lost control of our classroom. As the graph below shows from the past 3 years, there seem to be a lot more school shooting incidents than we are hearing about.
One student in the UCC classroom in Oregon sent a text message to the publisher of the Roseburg Beacon News, saying that, "The shooter was lining people up and asking if they were Christians. If they said yes, then they were shot in the head. If they said no or didn’t answer, they were shot in the leg.” Has this "doomsday" prophecy come to rest on our shores? Now, with the recent church shootings across our nation in the past 4 years, Christians are being martyred for their faith here in America. And outside of a presidential rant on gun control, The White House has yet to issue a statement of support or even sympathy for religious freedom.

Could the persecution of Christians in the past 4 years bring another Great Awakening to America? Or, will Christianity and the church continue to be censored from government, Hollywood, news rooms, and the general public? The church must be looking to ride this present crest or we miss another moment in American history to see a significant Spiritual Awakening. These events should drive the young people of the church to two simple things: first, to get upon our knees in repentance and humility as we intercede for God's sovereign move upon our nation. And second, to get up from our knees in confidence that God has called us to be a voice to our nation. 

Where Was God Last Week

Sure, many will say that a loving God should have stepped in on that scene and stopped the senseless murders. That He was absent again at such a tragic time in America's history. Let me say that I don't believe as some suggest that "God was taken from the classroom back in the 60's so why would we blame Him for not being there today?" And that, "It is our fault these things are happening because we took Him out of the classroom." That is simply not a logical statement of reality.
Partly because I don't think you can legislate a supernatural God out of our schools. But, mostly because I have seen God in our schools the last 4 decades. He has been seen working through the administration, staff, and faculty of our schools. And God has been seen working through our spiritual teen leaders in their classrooms, or bible studies and prayer groups, and See You At the Pole, or on sports teams standing for Christ. No, God has not been removed from our schools. He is ever-present in His people who attend our schools everyday.
This kind of thinking shows a lack of understanding of the Kingdom of God. I believe that God could have stopped the gun from firing and moved through students to overcome the shooter and rescued these students in that moment. The problem is not that God was absent. I think He was there. He was there in every faith-filled response of those students in the classroom as the Holy Spirit was speaking through them. And I believe that every person within hearing of those responses who lived will have to make an account of their own spiritual beliefs now as the Holy Spirit brings these life-changing moments to their memory.  

Someone said that the most courageous of students in that Oregon classroom last week were the students who had to answer the gunman second, and third, and fourth. Knowing that the first person who answered was murdered in front of their eyes, can you imagine the strength it must have taken to stand for Christ in that moment? That is an interesting thought. However, let me say that I believe the most courageous moments will be taken this week. When families move on from this tragedy and begin to heal. When friends of the slain students and faculty start to answer their own questions about what they believe. And when you and I decide that we will not let this significant moment in American history pass us by without a response.

Silence Is The Enemy Of Truth

Taking our example from the brave students in the UCC classroom, The American Christian Teenager must rise and lead the next Great Awakening. The ball is in our court. We cannot allow the courage and the sacrifice that many students took this past week in Oregon to pass again as other moments have. Our silence is the enemy of truth. We must not fear. In the face of a killer and his loaded weapons, these brothers and sisters of ours modeled to each of us the kind of faith it takes to build the Kingdom of God.

Remember, in John 12, Jesus said that "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone and cannot bear much fruit." Somehow, through hardship and suffering, the Kingdom continues in greater strength. Maybe, instead of blaming God for persecution, we should be embracing this persecution. Because we know that it may be the way to the Next Great Awakening in America.

In the wake of the Oregon shootings, many people have been posting this hashtag to their social media. Why not begin the next Spiritual Revival by doing the same.