There’s an interesting phrase found in 1 Chronicles 12:32, almost used in passing. There the sons of Issachar are introduced as servants of David, “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” They were valued as contributors for their discernment. On the other hand, in Luke 12:56 Jesus criticized His generation for their inability to discern the times. 

Up to now though, and even at the present moment, we as the church in America have largely failed to understand the times. If we’re going to succeed in this new world, we need to know what time it is.

It’s time to put down our squabbles.

A few years ago I wrote here on 4 things that will change instantly if persecution comes to America. One of the things I predicted will change is that our petty divisions and disputes will rapidly dry up. We don’t have time for drawing lines over many of the harmless hills of lesser doctrines we’ve chosen to die on. Anybody who’s still firing up those debates doesn’t know what time it is. 

We’re about to find out what really matters. Petty squabbles are one of the vices that can only be exercised during times of comfort. When persecution comes to our door, we’ll realize who’s with us and who’s not.

It’s time to outgrow platitude-level thinking.

Any time these kinds of difficult discussions arise, we always find those who throw out rehearsed one-liners as a mic drop, thinking it ends the conversation. “None of this is a Gospel issue, why does it matter?” “Romans 13 says we should obey.” “We shouldn’t worry about these discussion, we should just evangelize.” Those who would leave Christians unequipped by uttering such lines don’t know what time it is.

From the ivory tower of the preacher’s office it’s awful easy to hand wave these issues away. But Christians who make their living in the world know how inescapable these questions are. What are they to do when the corporate memo comes down, saying everybody has to respect their coworkers’ chosen genders? Do they “Just preach the Gospel?” What does the Christian counselor do when the state criminalizes any therapy that would talk LGBT people out of their lifestyle? Obey the state? We have to handle the hard questions.

It’s time to be offensive – in the right way.

So much of the Christian literature of my lifetime has urged Christians to try to be winsome toward the world – to try to get them to like us, essentially. We have to realize that embracing even the most basic of truths—a man is a man, and a woman is a woman—makes us wildly offensive and “hateful” to many in the world. Continuing to hide from these truths does not help us or them draw nearer to God.

The current line of thinking is that if the world doesn’t like us, we’ve done something wrong. But the more the world hates God, the more they should hate His people. Something is wrong if they hate Him but love us.

No, we don’t go forth as the Westboro Baptists, trying to be rude. But we do go forth saying “Yes, I believe in objective truth and that God is the Giver of it,” regardless of how much it makes them hate us. Those who have ears to hear will hear, because the postmodern world has left them starving for this message. 

It’s time to draw together as the church.

If things get to where they seem to be headed—namely, Christians being fired and/or sued for refusing to bow the knee to gender insanity and standing for God’s created truths—we had better be prepared to carry each other through such trials. Churches should be ready to carry members financially should it come to that. If we’re going to send our people out in the world as lights, knowing they may suffer persecution as such, then we had better be ready to stand behind their commitments. If we aren’t giving our people answers on what to do and the assurance that we’ll stand behind them, we don’t know what time it is. 

Many early Christians lost family relationships and inheritances, had their property seized, and more. The church had to be there for them. I firmly believe God will provide for any who take a stand in His name, but His primary “hands and feet” for doing so should always be the church. Let us pray for one another, encourage one another to stand strong, and be there for each other should such hard times come. 

Are you, your family, and your church prepared? Do you understand the times?