Let's face it, the history of the Church, particularly of the American Church, doesn't need a whole lot of stretching to be compared with the Old Covenant 'children' of Israel, the congregation in the wilderness, sometimes! Is it any wonder that many in the mainline church are calling this 'the Laodicean age'? Sure; there are pockets, which have existed throughout the history of the Church, that have stubbornly stood in defense of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, but too many others have exhibited a 'Laodicean' lukewarmness.
Many Christians today make a livelihood, almost, from condemning 'sin', or evil, wherever it might rear its ugly, venomous head, but most don't stop to think that the Church itself, as the new priest-hood of God, has, in many areas reneged, or else absolutely refused to be the Wife that Solomon described in the latter portion of Proverbs 31.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive study of Proverbs 31, though that should doubtless be on the menu, but verse 11 says of this virtuous wife, 'The heart of her husband safely trusts her'. As the Wife of God; the Church has not had a very good history in that respect, but the fact that God's Kingdom has been growing since its genesis is due solely to the the glorious fact that 'If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself' ( II Timothy 2:13 ). This does not absolve us of responsibility for this careless 'oversight', this horrible neglect, and our apathetic refusal to 'get involved'! As before; there has always been that faction that has labored virtuously for the Kingdom, striving to be the best 'Proverbs 31 wife' she can be; don't get me wrong! On the whole, though; far too many have abdicated their role of leadership, except within the four walls of their church, to..................you name it: the state, or federal governments, which are growing more God-less and anti-Christian, it seems, by the day, and then we wonder why our culture, which we are supposed to shape, and not the other way around, is in such deplorable dis-array: it's because the Church herself is in such dis-array!
I have recently had the unspeakable privilege, and thus, blessing, of listening to a series of sermons on the Revelation, preached by a very good friend of mine, an elder at Covenant Community Church, of Whitehall, Montana. In this series, particularly on Revelation 11; he really brought home the fact that one reason for the seeming decay of much of the Church, is because of a lack of correct, covenantal worship. Going off on a bit of a rabbit-trail here; the book of Revelation is just that, the Revelation of Jesus the Christ, revealing Him for Who He said He was, the very Son of God, God Himself! For too long; the Wife of God has almost obliterated this fact; divorcing the book from its meta-narrative, and seeking salvation in its pages. By this; I simply mean that far too many Christians seem to be seeking an escape from this 'world', and their responsibilities in it, as 'the Israel of God'!
Back to the subject now; God's Wife, across the ages has had an adulterous history, sordidly like that of old covenant Israel herself, as laid out, most notably, in the prophecy of Hosea. You might be thinking, 'Whoah; that's kinda strong language!' Yes, it is, but probably not strong enough! The words 'too little, too late' come to mind. But we, as the people of the Almighty God, Creator of all, know that this is not true! If the Wife of God would begin to do her job, 'facing up' to her responsibilities, and watching over the ways of her household ( the 'world' ); coming back to a true covenantal worship of God, in all aspects of life, and every hour of ever day; then she may begin to have the effect she is predestined to have, upon the 'world' around her!
Throughout her 'colored' history; the Church has committed much idolatry, adultery even, with foreign gods, and committed many atrocities in the name of her Husband, with almost the opposite effect from what she was supposed to affect, taking rather than having, and forcing her religion, rather than the true religion of God that the apostle James talked about, in James 1:26 & 27. When we begin to remember, as a corporate whole, one complete entity, and that it is all about Christ, and the true religion of God, and not about any man-made religion; then perhaps we will begin to effect a change in the 'world' around us.
Our culture, the 'world' us, we often forget, belongs to God, and through our relations with God, to us. Because of a mis-understanding, or total lack of understanding of our covenantal relationship with our Creator, and denial of His words in the Revelation, 'The kingdoms of this world have become [ the kingdoms ] of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'; the Church has,again, over the ages, and especially within the past couple hundred years, more or less, adopted a policy, seemingly, of 'wait and see'; we have not fulfilled our covenant duty as the wife of God to get involved, to be the Proverbs 31 wife He has made us, extending our hands to the poor, and supplying sashes for the merchants.
May we remember, before 'the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well' ( Ecclesiastes 12:6 ), that, as the Bride of Christ, the New Covenant Wife of God; we are up to the task, and if we meet it head on, our own works will be our praise in the gates, or as Jesus said, 'that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven'. This being our prayer; let us act upon it for the glory of God and for His Kingdom!
Charles Haddon Shank