[June 5, 2006 marked 25 years since first report of AIDS. Cumulative U.S. deaths due to AIDS exceeds 530,000. Globally more than 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS…]
We read in history of the Dark Ages which were caused by an extinction of the Light. The printing press had not been invented; and the church was, to a great degree, in darkness as well.
Today, we have free access to the Bible with homes in the Western world frequently having several copies of God’s Word. In addition, we have seminars, all sorts of media, and megachurches; and yet, there is a dearth of teaching which is life-transforming for believers. As a result, the church is still guilty of withholding the light from the world. “…If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:23).
The U.S.A. has been, and is yet, the greatest supplier of missionaries and humanitarian aid; but now much of our decadent society is exporting pornography and all sorts of life-enslaving (instead of life-transforming) messages and materials.
While we were–to some degree–helpful in pulling down the Berlin Wall, those who were liberated have taken in much of the worst of our culture. While many churches and groups from various countries have done evangelization, there has been little done by way of discipleship (which is much less glamorous and more time consuming). Also, the Word tells us in Luke 14:27 that taking up the Cross is the beginning of discipleship. Since very few churches are teaching the fullness of this truth (Romans 6:1-14; Col. 3:1-4; Gal. 2:20), it is understandable that most of those going to Eastern Europe and other parts of the world did not take this message.
Without the message of identification with Christ, the churches on the “mission field” are likely to replicate the powerlessness of the church in America. With the mammoth AIDS/drug problem developing there, the church at large is ill equipped to enter the fray.
Because of this neglect of Christ-centered, Cross-based discipleship, the Western Church has neglected her duty; there is spiritual darkness engulfing the world. Yes, Satan is the author of the consummate darkness, but God has provided His church to be the Light (Matt. 5:14-16).
We have sown the wind and are reaping the whirlwind. The world does not know what it needs, and the church is failing to provide a full-orbed gospel; thus, churches are planted but are not Spirit-empowered to be a force for God in their countries.
This spiritual vacuum is causing cultures around the world to suck in the worst of Western values to the detriment of the church. In times past, we could hold up our society as an example of honesty, mutual trust and moral standards. Democracy was modeled and other countries were admonished to do likewise (which now has a hollow ring).
Now, American freedom of religion has been turned around by humanistic courts to be freedom from religion (which amounts to turning off the Light). Then we are amazed that we are living in darkness!
This brings us to consider, What are the core spiritual issues that drive aberrant behaviors around the world–including that of the AIDS/drug subcultures?
In the realm of the spirit, the Bible states that each person has been born “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). We were born dead to God and alive to Satan (which places us under his influence in all of our pursuits – 1 John 5:19). Being devoid of faith, doubts reign supreme and people live in fear of death (Heb. 2:15).
Since by our natural birth we are part of Satan’s kingdom, we are open to deception–if not actual involvement–in occult activities. We were born in sin and, therefore, enslaved to the power of sin (Rom. 5:12). We enter this world “in the flesh” and ruled by its propensities (Rom. 8:8). That being the case, self (flesh) becomes a despot which brings our souls (personalities) under its control. The mind has been darkened, the emotions are vacillating and the will is bound due to enslavement to the power of sin and Satan’s devices.
There are only two ways, ultimately, to transcend the pull of this world system. These ways are both related to the spirit world–either Satan’s realm (with his principalities and powers) or God’s Kingdom, through the Lord Jesus Christ. Since man is innately religious, he will serve one god or the other. With a spirit that is open to Satan, man is inclined toward the power of darkness and religions which are in opposition to the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, people are an easy target for the prince of “the power of the air” and the occult–including witchcraft, drugs, alien religions and humanistic initiatives (Eph. 2:2,3).
Since abortion, homosexuality and pornography are tied to aberrant sexual orientations, these coupled with drugs, serve further to enslave a person to Satan’s kingdom, hardening him/her in alienation from God (Rom. 1;24-29; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).
Each of us operates out of an identity that is tied to a federal head, that of Adam or the Lord Jesus Christ. Though each of us has his own unique version of displaying such an identity, we are either in the life of Adam or that of the Lord Jesus Christ and the eternal destination dictated by the life in which we live (or exist!).
The identity in Adam is necessarily tied to time/space relationships and, because of this, is subject to change without notice. On a practical basis, it may have its expression in physical appearance, possessions, relationships or accomplishments–all of which are fleeting and none of which has eternal meaning.
Young people who have no set values are seeking meaning and purpose with many today choosing short term pleasure which results in long term devastation. Those who grow up in an atheistic environment have no eternal guidelines or absolutes to shape their lives, identities and behaviors. Since they are in a humanistic morass, anything which allows them to escape the pain of meaninglessness–however fleeting–provides a strong appeal. They may attempt to transcend their hopeless situation through drugs or indulging sensual appetites, even for a brief period of time. However, this route easily leads to addiction and irresponsible lifestyles. People become easy prey for the wiles of the enemy, Satan (1 Pet. 5:8,9).
Whether one tries to live out of an irresponsible identity or one which conforms to the tenets of society, the only way to gain freedom is to be born into the Kingdom of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. When rightly understood, such a transaction simultaneously separates the believer from the temporal identity in Adam, of whatever persuasion, and endows him/her with an identity that is equally effectual in time and eternity (Cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Cor. 15:22).
Through full surrender and personal reckoning on this truth of identification, God’s people can experience dynamic spiritual growth and effective service in these difficult times. Only the proliferation of such an identity in Christ by the church worldwide will serve to stem the tide of humanism and militant apathy that pervade the Western world. Through the message of the Cross and the power of the Holy Spirit, personal and corporate revival could typify the church of Christ internationally. May each of us experience and express this ultimate, liberating Answer in Christ.
An exerpt from HANDBOOK TO HAPPINESS FOR THE WORLD: The Church and the AIDS Pandemic, by Charles R. Solomon. Pigeon Forge, TN: Grace Fellowship International, 2004.
 Statistics from L.A. County Office of AIDS Programs and Policy