By His Grace:: A dark night and a bright light

Ben Bufkin

Editor's Note: This week's By His Grace column is submitted by Pastor Ben Bufkin of Living Word Church.

It’s easy to hear the chatter. On social media and cable news, the talk of a dark future in our country is everywhere. Obviously, depending on your political persuasion, you are either in mourning or celebration. This has always been our history when it comes to election cycles and the aftermath. When it comes to politics, this is what makes the world go around. Who has the power? What will they do with it? How long will it last? 

The Rev. Ben Bufkin is the pastor of Living Word Church in Schriever.

For some people, politics is the center of their universe. For others, they simply don’t have the time to care about it. 

I believe we must land somewhere in the middle.

Elections do have consequences. Politicians do make decisions that have the potential to impact our daily lives. From a Christian perspective, the political direction and the moral direction of our country are tied together. 

The moral direction of our country is an urgent issue that should concern us as Christians. This moral direction is influenced by three main groups. The first group can be described as media influencers of the nation. The media influencers become the loudest voices in our national dialogue about ultimate realities: truth and lies. The media influencers are not just your cable news pontificators; they are people who have large platforms who have instant access to the eyes, ears and minds of the nation. These influencers push the moral agenda that suits them the best.

For a significant number of these media influencers, the ultimate moral agenda is the destruction of Judeo-Christian values. If you think this is an exaggeration, you are not paying attention.

The next group of people that influence the moral direction of the nation are men and women in positions of political power. 

Every single politician has a moral compass, and that moral compass is often dictated by which direction the “wind” is blowing. 

Who influences which direction the “wind” blows? Who influences which direction the moral compass of this nation is pointing? The media influencers do. Some of the loudest of the voices in our society are systematically trying to, and quite successfully, turn upside-down the moral foundations of our nation. So there it is, media influencers and powerful politicians working together to undermine the Judeo-Christian values of so many Americans who call this country home. Those media influencers use their power to chart a new direction for our nation, and elected officials use that power to stay in office. 

These are dark days indeed. 

What about the third group of people that influence the moral direction of the nation? I’m glad you asked.

The third group is the church. The church of Jesus Christ. The people of God who proclaim the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. This is the group that I am most concerned about. 

I am never shocked when those who reject Christ live out that reality through immoral behavior. That is to be expected.

What is shocking and concerning is when those who name Jesus as the Lord of their life, get their gospel priorities out of order. It is concerning when the church takes up the wrong fight. It is concerning when the church fights for an earthly kingdom. 

Jesus gave the church clear marching orders in the sermon on the mount in Matthew Chapter 5. Look at verse 13:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.”

Jesus says that believers are the salt of the earth, and that our saltiness must not be lost. If we do, Jesus says we are good for nothing.

What is Jesus saying here? He is saying that the church is called to be so distinctively different than the world around them that when un-believers “taste” our message and lives, they leave hungry for more. 

But if the church is busy engaging in “kingdoms of this world” battles, she will lose her Gospel distinctiveness. 

Jesus uses another analogy in Matthew 5: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

The church is the light of the world. The church is called to be the last beacon of Biblical morality in our nation. As believers, we cannot hide what makes us distinct, believing that we will win a lost world that way. It is through our Gospel distinctives that the miracle of salvation will come to those who are in darkness. 

We need more believers preaching the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need more preachers standing in pulpits holding high the Word of God, unapologetically preaching Biblical truth in a post-modern culture, in season and out of season. 

I am concerned about the direction of our country. I am concerned about the direction of many churches today. It truly is a dark night in our nation, but the darkness cannot overcome the light.

No matter how dark it gets in our world, the light of the gospel will never be extinguished. 

We must stay on point as a church. We must keep our message clear. Jesus is the only way of salvation. He is the only hope in eternity. We must not shrink back when the media influencers and politicians seek to silence our message. The darker the night, the brighter the light. 

"In Him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:4-5.

-- The Rev. Ben Bufkin is the pastor of Living Word Church in Schriever.