On the day of his Moscow arrest- February 12th, 1974 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn published what would be his final message to the Russian people before the government exiled him to the West. In the title of the exhortation, he urged the Russian people to “live not by lies!” What did it mean to live by lies? It meant, Solzhenitsyn writes, “Accepting without protest all the falsehoods and propaganda that the state compelled its citizens to affirm – or at least not to oppose – to get along peaceably under totalitarianism.”
“Too many of us are sleeping through the erosion of our freedoms, assuming that totalitarianism can’t happen in America.” So writes Rod Dreher in his book, Live Not by Lies. Live Not by Lies is the wakeup call Christians need and will equip us for the long resistance in holding on to the truth..
“There always is this fallacious belief: ‘it would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.’ Alas all the evil of the 20th century is possible everywhere on earth.” So wrote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the Gulag Archipelago.
The chief and sole goal of the Church is to bring glory to God. Yet, glorifying God cannot happen without holiness, and holiness cannot exist apart from the truth. it was for this purpose that the lord established the church – to glorify God by being a means of evangelizing the lost and sanctifying the saints through the truth.
Since the Church is God’s holy and united people who have been entrusted with the truth, positionally, it follows, then, that God is only asking the Church to be what it is, practically. It would be out of step for instance, for the Church to seek to redefine itself in a desire to increase its influence and acceptability in the world. Instead, the Church is called to be itself and live out its very nature in a dark, hostile, and unholy world. Practically speaking, the Church is not to be influenced and shaped by the culture but to be a sanctifying influence on the culture.
It is at this very point – the way the Church engages the culture – that the Church is tempted to abandon its purpose. The Bible is clear that the Church is holy and is called to be holy and the world is unholy and will always be unholy. The culture of the world is shaped by its values – the things of the flesh – while the culture of the Church is shaped by its values – the things of the Spirit.
It is not necessary for the Church to repackage the Gospel in secular wrapping paper to make the altogether lovely One become more appealing and acceptable to the secular culture. The distinguishing mark of every true Church should not be its facilities, its age-related programs, it’s style of music, or any other secondary issue. Instead, the distinguishing mark of every true Church should be the truth.
“All that is evil is possible everywhere on earth.” Solzhenitsyn of course was referring to the evil of totalitarianism. However, evil has existed in the world since the Fall. The ordinary man may not be able to overturn the Kingdom of lies, but he can at least say that he is not going to be its loyal subject. Under the emerging tyranny of wokeness, conservatives, including conservative Christians, learn to practice some form of hypocrisy (lying to others) and duplicity (lying to self). The ones who are most deeply deceived are those who convince themselves that they can live honestly within woke systems by outwardly conforming and learning how to adapt their convictions to the new order. “They swindle the devil who thinks he’s swindling them. But the devil knows what they think and is satisfied” (Czeslaw Milosz in The Captive Mind).
Pastor Steve can be reached at PastorSteve@MaranathaBibleChurch.org