Scripture never fails to speak to present-day realities. We’re living in a time when Bible knowledge among the general public is diminishing. More and more, those who put faith and try to live by its treasured words are seen as ignorant. We’re told we’re not “woke,” that we’re living in the past and believing in myths and old people’s stories.
For those who are willing to believe, Jesus’ words speak right into our twenty-first-century world with accuracy and power. The unwilling are the blind and deceived; they just don’t know it. Take today’s read of Matthew 19-20.
The world tells us there are multiple genders and simply by naming it, we can change our biology and our DNA. Jesus says Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female…? (Matthew 19:4)
The world tells us that marriage is a thing of the past, that cohabitation is the new norm, and if you do get married but want out, just fill out the paperwork and move on to the next relationship. Jesus says, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh…so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. … And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery. (Matthew 19:5-6,9)
The world says that doing good works is enough to get you into heaven (or whatever paradise you believe waits for you after death). Jesus says [in answer to a young man who kept the commandments as perfectly as he possibly could], If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. (Matthew 19:21) *Jesus wasn’t giving another law to follow; He was exposing the young man’s heart. He loved his possessions more than he desired eternal life.
The world says we should work hard and build up as many possessions as possible to have a successful life. Jesus says Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:29)
The world honors those who rise to positions of power and that highly visible accomplishments are an indicator of success. Jesus says It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. (Matthew 20:26-27).
The Christian life is upside down from the world’s perspectives, and it always has been. Our current culture (like all human culture) is driven by humanistic, man-centered principles. Jesus was the outlier in His day, preaching and teaching something that was completely antithetical to the thinking of the crowds, and we ought to expect the same treatment He received if we are truly “all in” with Jesus.
The last snippet of a story in Matthew 20:29-34 shows us the kind of people we need to be in the face of an unfriendly culture. As Jesus is leaving Jericho, a large crowd is following. Two blind men by the side of the road heard He was passing by, so they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” You can imagine the scoffing and sneers toward these two desperate men. They were an annoyance. They were noisy and distracting. The crowd tells them sternly, “Be quiet!”
What was their response? Did they crawl away in shame for believing Jesus could change their lives? Did they give in to the press of the crowd and the popular opinion about them? Did they lose faith and think that perhaps Jesus wasn’t interested in them?
They cried out all the more.
Jesus heard them. He stopped and asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” In response to their faith, Jesus did what they asked. Moved with compassion, He touched their eyes, and immediately they could see.
The “woke” world is not going to back down against those who cry out to Jesus. They are going to tell you to sit down and be quiet and stop believing in a fairy tale. They’re going to make fun of you if you choose to ask Jesus to open your spiritual eyes and give you faith to believe in Him. They’re going to mock you for going against the cultural pressures that tell you things you know aren’t true and will not satisfy the longings of your soul. Don’t listen. Be like those two blind men and keep calling out to Him. He will answer you, open your eyes, and you will see what is real and true and right.
This is true for those who are believing for the first time, and for those of us who have walked with Jesus for years. We must keep crying out to Him for discernment and faith, even when the world says “be quiet.” We know the upside-down world is the real world, and that one day God will set all things right.