Coming of Age

 By Francis Frangipane

The devil is trying to concentrate his efforts to bring [America] down morally, spiritually. Because he knows if he brings America down, there is probably no other nation in the world that will stand in his way. America is a main deterrent force against evil powers in the world today.      -Dr. Thomas Wang (AD 2000 and Beyond)

As an atheistic state, Russia's official stand was that there was no deity. God was a myth. Stalin taught that religion was merely the "opiate of the people." In fact, the Soviet communists mocked the reality of God. Their first cosmonauts bragged that they had flown to "heaven" and found no God there. Two generations of Russians were taught on every level of academia that God simply did not exist. The lie, "there is no God," saturated their society. Then the Lord spoke: There is no Soviet Union. Almost instantly the USSR vanished.

Its collapse was the most significant event since the end of World War II. Civilization is still rubbing its eyes, struggling to awaken to the reality in which it currently finds itself. It is as though mankind lived with a disease it thought terminal: nuclear war. The diagnosis has been changed and our condition is no longer terminal.

So, where do we go from here? Since 1991, everything about life on planet earth has changed. We no longer live beneath the shadow of nuclear death. You say, "I still think nuclear war will destroy the world." Well, you are welcome to live in whatever oppression you choose, but Jesus said plainly that, while we would hear of "wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened . . . that is not yet the end" (Mark 13:7).

Yes, there may be nuclear bombs that fall into the hands of terrorists, and limited military conflicts will certainly involve us in the days ahead; but according to Christ, "war . . . is not . . . the end." So, if you are still afraid of nuclear annihilation even though Jesus commanded us, first, "do not be frightened," and secondly, that war will not destroy the earth, maybe you are being emotionally drained for nothing.

However, I don't want to minimize how difficult it has been for American Christians to accept that we have been given more time. We have had such an "end of the world" mentality. Some Christians are almost mad that their predictions about Russia, World War III, the fall of the United States, and the beginning of tribulation did not come to pass. Jeremiah said that he did not long for the mournful day. But sometimes I wonder if some of us are disappointed that the world hasn't been destroyed.

Since we are still alive and the world has not come to an end, we ought to finally come to terms with the fact that God has given us more time. Or maybe we always had more time, but we are just now discovering it. How much, only the Father knows, but we have time enough to rethink the short-term future and act in great boldness for the sake of the lost in the world.

So let's consider: In light of the Cold War's end, what principles shall guide and define the next millennium? As long as we remain on planet earth, the church needs to see itself seated at the table of world consciousness, drafting its role in shaping the world to come. Indeed, we have every right to be there. For, as we said, it was the influence of Christian values homogenized into American culture that God honored in toppling communism.

I believe that the 21st century, at least in the beginning, will continue extending the "American century." God has given this nation the position of worldwide influence. What we do with this responsibility, and why God is empowering the church at this strategic time, is central to our destiny.
 
You say, "God could get the gospel out by Himself. Nations do not need to be free to do so. Look at the church in the Roman Empire."

Yes, the early church was able to advance, and even flourish, in spite of persecution. But remember, Christians were only persecuted during various intervals. There were extended seasons when they were not oppressed by the Roman government.

Today, however, in nations where the gospel is outlawed or where Christians are tortured or jailed, there is a definite need for at least some freedom. Cultures must be opened somewhat before the gospel can expand.

Indeed, it is in this regard that I believe the Lord will continue to use America to keep doors opening in the otherwise closed cultures and societies of the world. The more openness these societies embrace, the greater the gospel can be proclaimed and received. Indeed, prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, something unheard of in communist lands began to occur. The Russians called it glasnost. It means "openness." Worldwide, openness is what the influence of America provides.


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