Today’s Bible reading
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Even so, many will follow their licentious ways, and because of these teachers[a] the way of truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced against them long ago, has not been idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment; and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly; …then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment. – 2 Peter 2:1-9
More thoughts for meditation
Rod Dreher is a senior editor at the American Conservative. So some people might think that disqualifies him from leading us in prayer this week. But his book The Benedict Option might make you feel like you need to show some respect across the lines around your blue-state world. Christians the world over, especially in Europe and the United States, are wondering what to do, now that “Christendom” is collapsing around them, “How should we be the church when the institutional church is crumbling? What will our children become if the world around them is hostile to their faith?” Dreher writes:
“The spiritual crisis overtaking the West is the most serious since the fall of the Roman Empire near the end of the fifth century . The light of Christianity is flickering out all over the West…The changes that have overtaken the West in modern times have revolutionized everything, even the church, which no longer forms souls but caters to selves. As conservative Anglican theologian Ephraim Radner has said, ‘there is no safe place in the world of in our churches within which to be a Christian. It is a new epoch.’ [We have something to say about the “crisis”]
Don’t be fooled by the large number of churches you see today. Unprecedented numbers of young adult Americans say they have no religious affiliation at all. According to the Pew research Center, one in three 18-to-29-year-olds have put religion aside, if they ever picked it up in the first place. If the demographic trends continue, our churches will soon be empty.”
He is going to go on to say that the “Benedict option” is what we should try. He means that anyone waking up to the inhospitable environment in which they live should band together to form real communities of radical faith in the same way Benedict of Nursia did as the Roman Empire was dissolving (on his way to founding the Benedictine Order). It is a good idea, isn’t it? It sounds like he needs Circle of Hope, doesn’t it?
We say we are transhistorical (so we can commune with Benedict of Nursia), transnational (so we don’t feel overly responsible for “America”), and we are also transdenominational, meaning that if Rod Dreher finally ended up in the Orthodox Church, that’s fine. We admire them, too.
Suggestions for action
It is sad that “conservatives” are being forced to admit holding on to the United States was a mistake and aspiring to political dominance was bad for the faith of their children. But it is also good that some of them are admitting it. Can you allow for the big changes in society and church to bring all us Jesus followers together rather than splitting us up even further? What could you do to speed along the reconciliation of the Church, especially if you have relatives or church friends on the other side of some trumped-up political divide?
Pray around your life for a few minutes. Who is divided from whom by what? Who do you leave alone because they are “like that?” Who has lost their faith because the world finally leeched it out of them or beat them down? Imagine with God what it would be like if these folks lived in a community of life-centering faith in Jesus. Don’t worry whether you think this is possible right now. Just pray it. And see where you fit into God’s building plans.