Last Days Living – Part 2

In Part 1 of Last Days Living we considered if we are indeed living in the “Last Days.” In Part 2 we will look at how Jesus’ Followers ought to live in the days of a world growing increasingly hostile and dark. 

Before we consider how to do that today, let’s spend a little time looking at how The Church has done it in the past.

The Early Church

The Church was born into a godless culture. While there were some things to commend in the Greco-Roman society of the First century, its morality most certainly was not. Human life was cheap; perversion was rampant. The Jewish society it originated in    was morally superior to the larger Greco-Roman world but murderously hostile toward Jesus’ Followers. Yet the Church thrived and eventually grew to so influence the lands Rome once ruled, it ruled Rome. 

Yet neither the New Testament nor the history of the early church commends the kinds of action some Church leaders call for today. Boycotts and public protests are not the mandate Jesus gave His Church. Making disciples is. As the early church was faithful to that, they changed the world.

Nowhere in the New Testament do we find instructions to boycott or stage public protests. Jesus never rallied the disciples to protest the corruption in the temple. While John the Baptist was arrested and executed for criticizing Herod, Jesus did not. Huh, there’s something to think about.

Where in Acts do the Apostles stage an organized protes  t of the Sanhedrin for condemning Jesus? Where in the letters of the New Testament do Paul or Peter tell the churches it was part of their program to boycott pagan merchants or start an anti-slavery protest? On the contrary, Romans 14 deals with the thorny issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols. Paul knew some of his readers purchased meat from butchers who secured their supplies from pagan temples. The meat they sold had been offered in sacrifice to an idol. Paul never tells them to stop it. He tells them to be careful that their liberty to do so doesn’t become an occasion to offend a sensitive Christian who didn’t share that liberty.

Paul’s bottom line in Romans 14 is the need to exercise caution in judging others in how we go about interacting with a fallen world. We must not put our convictions on this issue on others. That means if you choose to boycott or protest, fine. Don’t label those who don’t as “gutless cowards” as some do today. If you choose not to join a boycott or protest, don’t judge those who do. Let each person be fully persuaded in their own mind how God is directing them – not pressured by others who say there is only one way to go about living in a society that has turned its back on God.

Romans 14:5 says, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” Verse 19 follows, “Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”

Boycotts & Protests

I understand the appeal of boycotts and protests. I’ve participated in them in the past. Under certain conditions, I may still. I’ve spent hours on the sidewalk outside an abortion mill, seeking to persuade women entering the clinic not to abort their unborn child. I stood side by side with hundreds of others alongside a roadway with signs in support of a specific piece of legislation. I marched with thousands in Hollywood in protest of gross blasphemy. Years ago, I joined boycotts of companies whose policies promoted evil. 

And I have rethought all that in light of what I find in God’s Word and discovered in Church History. Also, using a Biblically-informed pragmatism, what was the real result of all those boycotts and protests we participated in? Was the mandate Jesus gave us advanced, or did it just make us all feel better because we were “doing something” to express our opposition? I realize now frustration drove those boycotts and protests – frustration at watching what was supposed to be a Judeo-Christian Western Civilization turning from its roots to a godless secularism we knew spelled doom. We couldn’t let that happen without saying or doing something. The something we did was protests and boycotts. They accomplished nothing except to make us feel better about ourselves.

I know of no one who was won to faith in Christ by boycotts. No one was persuaded of the Gospel by protests. But a watching world assumed our cause was political rather than moral and spiritual because clever politicians saw in us a force to leverage to their own ends. We foolishly went along with their promises that if we elected them to office, they’d restore the Judeo-Christian heritage. They didn’t. They used us. Sadly, a large swath of Evangelicals continues to dance to the tune of political Pied Pipers.

No, the real result of the boycotts and protests was a large segment of the population rejecting the Gospel because we caused them to regard it as little more than a political platform.

An Illustration

I don’t want to be politically pigeon-holed, so I’ll use an illustration from another field.

Fred and Mark work at the same place. Fred likes classical music. He’s all about Mozart, Bach, and Smetana. Mark is into Country music; Hank Williams and Garth Brooks. Fred is a Christian and finds God glorified in the inspired lines of music he listens to. He’s heard some of the lyrics of country music and takes offense at how immoral they are. At lunch break one day he asks Mark what he’s listening to on his earbuds. Mark tells him it’s Shania Twain. Fred challenges him on how he could listen to such ‘evil’ music. The song Mark’s listening to is innocent. There’s nothing offensive in it, so he writes Fred off as a loon. 

This goes on day after day. Fred declares that classical music is good and goldy while country music is wicked, evil, bad. Mark’s heard classical music and doesn’t care for it. But now that Fred claims classical music is morally superior to Country, Mark assumes classical music is a “Christian” thing and becoming a Christian means trading the music he likes for a genre he doesn’t.

I know this illustration is absurd – but it serves the point I’m making. Replace politics for music and you can see what’s happened for an entire segment of the population today. 

Mark COULD very well one day learn to appreciate the beauty of music by Beethoven and Mussorgsky. He may even realize that lyrics advocating immorality are out of bounds for his musical diet. But that would only happen if he came to faith in Christ and had his mind renewed by God’s Word and Spirit. He’s not likely to come to faith if Fred’s behavior suggests that BECOMING a Christian in essence is a matter of musical preference.

In the same way, people on the other side of the political divide from what Evangelicals have carved out are NOT going to come to faith in Christ if they think the essence of being a Christian is embracing a set of political positions they find abhorrent. They may one day realign their political views if God’s Spirit changes their heart and His Word renews their mind. But they’ll never come to faith if boycotts and protests reinforce their assumption being a Christian means adopting a set of political views they reject.

A Different Way

Complicating all this is a secular media industry pledged to an anti-God narrative contrary to The Gospel. The media uses every opportunity to portray Christians as advocates of a political agenda that polls now tell us most Americans find repellent. The misrepresentations are legion. Promoting its own agenda and message, mainstream media shines a spotlight on a few radical voices, then suggests thousands of Chistian-minions think the same way. Implied is the message that if they aren’t silenced, our democracy will be turned into a theocratic dictatorship along the lines of The Handmaid’s Tale.

All that is why we must strive for a different way from boycotts and protests. Let’s return to the mandate Jesus gave us and the example of the early Church. 

Make disciples. Win the lost to faith in Christ by showing how life in Him IS better; better at home, better at work, better in the marketplace. Once they come to faith, show them how to live a life in love with God. 

Keep first things first. Don’t persuade people your political views are better. Persuade them Jesus is better. Once they realize that, politics will take care of themselves.

While I don’t support called-for boycotts anymore, I DO decide who I want my shopping dollars to go to based on what they stand for. I evaluate candidates and propositions from a Biblical worldview. That’s what Jesus meant in Matthew 5 when He said as we follow Him we would be the salt of the Earth and the light of the world. It’s about the influence a Christ-infused life has on those around us.

Living in the Last Days

While I hope and pray for one last great revival that transforms the culture and restores the Judeo-Christian roots of Western Civilization that resulted in the greatest liberty and prosperity, for the greatest number of people in all history, I recognize the Bible makes clear there has to be a last revival at some point. After that it’s a very messy end for the world. The question is, is the last revival before or behind us? It is wise to pray for it but prepare as though it is behind us. 

Protests and boycotts are a strategy that assumes we can change things for the better by them. Others would say they are right regardless of what they do or don’t accomplish. In light of what we find in the New Testament about living in a fallen world and what the lesson of the Early Church teaches us, a re-evaluation of boycotts and protests seems appropriate.

Methinks prayer would accomplish more of what God wants done.

Photo by Linus Sandvide on Unsplash

16 thoughts on “Last Days Living – Part 2”

  1. Thanks, Lance – I think that there are at least a couple of positive purposes and outcomes of protests & boycotts. Isaiah was told to prophesy though his words would produce no fruit and Israel would be taken into exile. The voice of prophetic truth stands as a sentinel of judgment over a rebellious people.

    Too, I think that protests and boycotts allow for the exercise of conscience that strengthens the faith of the one protesting. If it bears fruit in the one protesting/boycotting – it is not fruitless. I’d rather have a ‘fruitless’ protest than a defeatist attitude that says, “There’s nothing we can do about it anyway.” And yes, I hear your call to prayer & affirm it. Yet I don’t think that public protest and private prayer are mutually exclusive activities.

    What do you think? Where am I missing it?

    1. Tim,
      I can agree with you, in part.
      I may not have been as clear as I ought have been on the necessity for people to act out of a Biblically-aligned and Spirit-directed conscience on how they ought to respond to these things. Abolition in Europe and the New World was a LONG “protest” that affected important change, and it was led almost exclusively by committed Christians. So there indeed IS room for THAT kind of protest – something strategic with a clear objective in mind.

      But Tim, much of the activity I see today in protests and boycotts is neither strategic nor does it have a clear objective. It’s just the oft-angry voicing of discontent with a wicked world that does NOT commend The Gospel to the lost. What is especially troubling is the message given by some that if you don’t join THEIR protests and boycotts, your Faith is deficient.


  2. Thanks, Lance. You’re in So Cal – almost. What is your take on the protest mounted against the Dodger’s for their Community Hero Award to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence? How would you apply the criteria of your original post?

    1. Lance Emerson Ralston

      Great query – and one that illustrates all this, to a degree (I think).
      My wife and I are (were?) Dodger fans. We subscribed to a cable company because they carry all the Dodger games. We watch many of them. BUT – their Pride Night shenanigans served to dramatically cool our fandom.

      I watched some local leaders call for boycotts and protests of the Dodgers. Some overtly said, while others implied, that to NOT engage in such was evidence of a compromised Christian. Some went so far as to say that pastors who didn’t organize their people to boycott and protest were “gutless cowards.” I decided to skip attending any of the rest of this season’s games. My decision for how II will spend my dollars. I’m not going to make that a test of any one else’s spirituality. Nor am I going to question the motives of the thousands who waited in the parking lot on Pride Night in protest of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence being awarded inside the stadium before the game. I understand there were maybe just a few hundred in attendance. I hope that DID send a message to Dodger owners and management about the sensibilities of their fans. If that tamps down future celebrations of immorality and debauchery at Dodger Stadium – great.

      But – what long-term impact did the protest have on the wider culture? Was it positive or negative? Did it glorify God? Did it serve to promote the Gospel? Did it serve to make disciples? Time will tell.

      Tim, I realize those questions may seem like non-sequiturs to the issue, but I don’t know how else to evaluate all this.

  3. Thanks, Lance. You ask: …what long-term impact did the protest have on the wider culture? Was it positive or negative? Did it glorify God? Did it serve to promote the Gospel? Did it serve to make disciples? Time will tell.

    Long-term impact. I think it may well have catalyzed a good number of folks to say, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.” It’s impossible to quantify how many around the nation were empowered by this protest to resist evil in their neck of the woods, but if it contributed to waking people to the insanity of Woke – it’s good. I think that Dodger’s management got the message, which is why they presented their Community Hero Award when they did. If I was a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, I would be offended by how the Dodger’s minimized the event.

    Did it glorify God? Think of it this way – when you are out in a public place (restaurant, park, theme park) and there is a large family whose children are well behaved and responsive to parental authority, does this not serve to glorify the parents – to mark them as dads and moms who are to be applauded and emulated? When God’s people resist evil and cry out against it, God is being glorified. It is God who has birthed the inner protest. When God’s people cry out for God’s Word and will and ways – God is glorified.

    Does it serve to promote the gospel & make disciples? I think it is the gospel and discipleship in action. Ephesians 5:11 says, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them…” Also, John the Baptist publicly rebuked Herod for his public sin of taking his brother’s wife.

    These kinds of protests and rebukes serve as a sort of barometer of spiritual and moral sensitivities. When the canary in the mine no longer sings, it’s because noxious gasses have killed it, and this is a sign to the miners that it’s time to run. When God’s people don’t cry out against moral outrage, that could very well be a sign of hopelessness.

    You write: “Protests and boycotts are a strategy that assumes we can change things for the better by them.”
    I don’t know if protests and boycotts change things, but if they can stop some things and slow down other things – I’m all for them! Thanks, Lance.

    1. Tim, I don’t disagree with most of that. What I may differ on may be more of an issue of nuance that a fundamental difference.

      I most likely was provoked to write the original posts by the statements of some in the Faith Community (and a few personal emails) that Pastors and church leaders HAD to participate in and promote public protests and boycott businesses that show support for Pride Month or they are morally compromised gutless cowards, and by extension, anyone who called themselves a Christian.

      While many disinterested sideliners to the whole thing may have sat up and taken notice of the protests and said, “Wait. What?! The Dodgers are honoring who? That’s WRONG!” how many mildly pro-LGBT (because they’ve imbibed secularism) saw the protests as just more evidence of how hateful Christians are? Which you and I know isn’t true. BUT, and this is a point I made in the article, the media loves to spin such protests AS evidence of hate. I do not think it serves the cause of the Gospel when Jesus-Followers are regarded as haters.

      Yes, John the Baptist protested Herod’s immorality – and lost his head for it. Jesus lived at the same time yet did not declaim Herod’s immorality. Maybe that means there isn’t only one way to go about this. If that’s the case, we need to be careful about condemning those who chose another way than we do.


  4. I appreciate the conversation, Lance.

    Two things: 1) I/we/you can’t allow the opinions of others to be the final arbiter of our conduct. To think that an LGBTQ+ person would be more open to the gospel if the church didn’t protest wickedness would have us second-guessing all we did. For some, sharing the gospel is an act of hate.

    2) Like the Scriptures say: Let each man be convinced in his own mind. I completely agree – to think someone a coward because they don’t join in the protest du jour is foolish. This gets us in the devil’s bind. “I protest your lack of protest.” “I protest your protest.”

    1. Hi Tim,
      You and Lance are making some great points, ( I don’t know how many “ghost readers” are in here observing )
      I belong to Calvary Chapel 14/6 in Surprise, AZ, our Pastor makes the point clear…do you have your own moral code ? or do you have Gods ?
      The term “ your truth is your truth and I have mine” well guess what, both are wrong! There’s only one truth, Gods truth. That means simply..,empty what we think is right and throw it in the garbage! Our righteousness is as filthy rags to God, why in the world did Jesus come in the first place, to act like every other ruler, be it never so!!
      What’s the point, I made a comment on Lance’s Part one post, the point I made with him is…we need to be like the believers in Acts 4 when the disciples were told to hide and speak no more in the name of Jesus…no, they ask God for boldness and our Father, shook the ground and they were filled with the Holy Spirit !!
      What matters is do we love Jesus more than our lives, that means stepping out in faith and be a “fool” for our God and Savior Jesus !
      Praying for you brothers

        1. Lance,
          I was scrolling on Pastor Jack’s Real Life network, and put the names together, you spoke at the Endure Conference last year.
          Your talk about 2 Thess. 2 and the reminder of the lie…and pulling it together about transhumanism…is just mind blowing…the sad reality is the deceiver is laughing as the unbelieving want a world without the LORD guiding, loving and protecting them from the lie.
          Thank you for your love for Jesus and the love of the truth that Gods Word brings.
          God Bless brother

  5. Lance Emerson Ralston

    The Endure Conference In Hilo was at the beginning of 2020, just before Covid “broke the world.” Man, I wish I would have known what was about to hit and all that ensued with that as it would have been some more good fodder for the Transhumanism talk.
    Had a chance to meet Jack Hibbs there. Great guy. Down to earth and humbly confident in Christ.

    1. Lance,
      For certain in regards to Covid plandemic.., as I write this I’m thinking when Paul said that “ the mystery of wickedness is at work” even the first century, Paul was warning the Christian’s then about the how Satan is working among those who do not believe or even worst suppress the truth! Yikes, can you imagine what he sees today if he were here,
      Lance, I don’t know how much we will see before Jesus comes., but the advancement of A. I. And all rage to flock to it…, it’s like the quote of the scientist that said on your prop. that they ( scientists ) say we can become gods ( transhumanism ), nothing more than what Nimrod was trying to do and God did something about it,
      anyway, it’s great talking to you and picking your brain and encouraging me to serve our Jesus, praying for the Holy Spirit to strengthen, uphold, and equip you as you serve Jesus by serving the sheep under your care…
      God Bless brother,
      Psalm 62:5-8

  6. Dear Tim and Lance,
    Why don’t you guys just call each other? I mean, you’re in the same time zone… unlike me 😉 … just kidding! I, along with many others, enjoy and appreciate the back and forth. The dialog helps clarify the issues!
    Just one more thought… as far as boycotts and protests, I was thinking of all that Paul writes in Romans 14. Obviously, the context is different, but the sentiment is similar — “whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man (or woman) who does not condemn himself by what he approves. …everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Rom 14:22, 23c NIV84)
    Perhaps our concern, especially as pastors, is the dulling of our consciences that leads to apathy and indifference, and also to reactionary talk and actions. As you said, Lance, I believe a key is if something is well thought out and strategic. If we’re not speaking or acting out of conviction from God’s Spirit and a Spirit-led conscience, then it lacks value.

    1. Trip
      Good word,
      Praying our LORD Jesus fills you with the Holy Spirit to lead the body of believers the He gave to teach and feed in these dark and corrupted days,
      1 Corinthians 10:12
      God Bless
      Dave from Arizona

  7. Trip,
    Ha! As you well know, polite discourse of differing opinions is in short supply today. I hope Tim and I modeled what it ought to and can look like.
    Truthfully, I shrink from such with TIm because I’m in awe of his intellect and erudition. My default with TIm is, if he has a different view than mine, I probably ought to ditch mine in preference for his.

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