I’m currently reading through the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. It’s a sobering read. Ezekiel, a contemporary of Jeremiah, had the unenviable task of foretelling God’s judgment upon the nation of Judah for their perennial disobedience, idolatry, and lust for wickedness. Throughout the books of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, God laments the depth of Jerusalem’s depravity and the destruction that He would ultimately bring on them. The Lord even grieves that they caused their children to pass through the fire, a barbaric ritual of child sacrifice to pagan gods.
Just as Ezekiel had prophesied, Jerusalem fell to the slaughtering sword of Babylon in 586 BC by King Nebuchadnezzar, the man the Lord had ordained to bring unparalleled judgment upon the city of His chosen people. The princes and false prophets of Judah had intentionally lead the nation headlong into every sort of debauchery imaginable though they were given constant warnings by God. They had virtually outlined the commands of God from scripture and then intentionally practiced the very opposite. Widows and the fatherless were exploited, idolatry became the national religion, graven images were actually brought into the temple, slavery and sexual immorality dominated the landscape, and not one righteous man was found to stand in the gap.
In one scene, the Lord takes Ezekiel by a vision to the holy temple to show him the abominations of the nation’s leaders. He ushers him to a hole in the temple’s wall, and commands him to dig through the hole and look beyond the wall. And there he sees within the courts men and women involved in the panoply of idolatry and all of its associated vulgarity. The elders of Israel were actually participating in the gross practices of the idolatrous enemies that encompassed them, the very nations who would eventually invade and destroy them.
It should cause us as Christians to ask, “how did it happen?” How did the nation of God become the nation of idols? How did the children of God morph into children of the world?
In the same way it happens today. Apostasy occurs gradually, at least initially, always precluded by a subtle step off the path of orthodoxy and an accompanied lack of protest from its constituents. Addressing the nature of absolutes, Christian author and apologist Ravi Zacharias says “...truth is seldom attacked head on. It is gradually reduced until it begins to seduce a person with a mixture of half-truths and half-lies. He sums it up succinctly, “it is a reduction and a seduction.”
I believe that this is becoming the same problem plaguing American Christianity. There are now far too many examples of Christian leaders and laymen allowing the truth of God’s word to be reduced, even as they are seduced by the sirens of contemporary culture. Like Judah in the sixth century BC, the church is eyeing the secular enticements that surround her, and lusting for the forbidden fruit. We are flirting with godlessness and dabbling in areas, especially entertainment, that draw us away from orthodoxy.
Christians, we must etch a line in the sand and separate ourselves from this culture, not physically but spiritually. It is going to require a determined commitment to formally and finally reject the priorities, categories, and definitions of the secular world. No more receiving and endorsing casual immorality as though we were immune. It is wrong, it displeases our God, and it inaugurates apostasy. A Christian friend recently mentioned that she went to view a recently released and highly acclaimed movie. This movie is also known as Hollywood’s first major film to feature a lesbian love scene. How does a child of God buy a ticket to a production that portrays lesbianism in a positive light? How do we use our God-given resources to subsidize sexual immorality? But it’s more common within our ranks than we would like to admit. From entertainment to politics to finances, we are being absorbed by secular culture.
Like ancient Judah, American Christians are too comfortable with the abominations of contemporary liberal thought. There is no outcry. One step off the path of righteousness is all it takes, and soon we find ourselves practicing the vulgarity of paganism, and looking a lot more like the world’s harlot than the bride of Christ. We need to remember our first love, repent of our worldly associations, and return to the Savior who purchased us with His blood. Let’s separate ourselves from the profanity of what is common and be joined to Christ and His righteousness.
Ezekiel is a grave reminder to the consequences of compromise. We are the church, the “called-out ones.” Let’s obey our calling, and let’s separate ourselves to holiness.