Today’s spiritual vacuum should be the greatest fact of our time.

Few speak optimistically about the 1980s. This is understandable; the threats to peace and stability are so numerous that many believe only a miracle will prevent a serious crisis. On almost every front—political, economic, social, ecological—our world seems close to the breaking point. Think of the chaos that would come to the industrial nations if, for instance, the flow of oil were cut off. The list of potential disasters lurking around the corner of the 1980s is almost endless. George Orwell’s 1984 seems frighteningly close.

No one knows, of course, what the 1980s will really bring to our nation and world. Only time will tell if the decade holds some cataclysmic event that will rock our civilization (and others as well); but few observers discount the possibility.

Yet for Christians this issue is only part of a greater question: Will we, as Christians, be up to the challenges of the 1980s—whatever they may be? If our sovereign Lord allows us another decade before Christ comes again, will we be able to look back in ten years and say honestly that we have been “good and faithful servants”? As the Apostle Peter says, speaking of the transitory nature of this world and the imminent second coming of Christ, “In view of the fact that all these things are to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be?” (2 Peter 3:11, Phillips).

At root, the answer should be the same as always: We must be God’s people, faithful to him in every circumstance, no matter how difficult. No one has ever found it easy to be a true disciple of Christ; every age poses its temptations to divert us from the path of faithfulness. Sometimes these burst upon us blatantly; sometimes they ...

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