What has become of kindness, respect, and the ability to agree to disagree? Each day I look through the newsfeeds to see what’s happening around the world. Each day, I become more disappointed at what I see. It’s not so much the issues that bother me, though many are heart-wrenching. It’s the response to the issues that grieve my heart.

In year’s past, folks could disagree and maintain relationships. They could have significantly different outlooks on issues and life and still enjoy each other’s company. It seems we’ve lost that time in America. Why is that? Why is the hatred and vitriol so off the charts? What has changed to move us in that direction? Why can’t I have my opinion and you yours, and we still have dinner together?

The answer is very basic. It’s so simple it’s often overlooked. We’ve lost the ability to love because we’ve lost God who is love. Some 60 years ago, society decided that God was no longer welcome in America. It began with the removal of God from schools.

Over the years, it’s progressed to the recent attempts to remove God from all vestiges of society. The expectation is that you can have God, just keep Him in your church or at home. He’s not welcome anywhere else. Evil is welcome. Wickedness is desirable, but God must remain on the shelf to collect dust.

Removing God from society has removed love from society. That has affected individuals of all political persuasions and walks of life. Both Democrats and Republicans can be hateful. In fact, they are; just watch your latest news video or read a current Facebook post.

I cringe at some statements I see from “Christians”. I’m flabbergasted by the identity politics, libel, slander, and hatred put forth by elitists from Hollywood. To what end does this lead?

If not love, then what? The opposite of love is hate, while the opposite of righteous is wicked. Know God; know love. No God; no love. It’s as simple as that.

I’m aware from the Bible we’re to expect what’s happening. Regrettably, it doesn’t make it any easier to endure. As we move closer to end times, Scripture tells us “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). I’ll let Scripture speak for itself through Matthew 24:3-14:

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

One only need review the decay of society in recent years to determine there’s an increase of wickedness. Even non-Christians can see America has morally declined. Because of this, we are possibly seeing the beginnings of the love of most growing cold. I’m no prophet and have no idea when Jesus will return. However, it’s not difficult to see some of those verses prophetically playing out in our world today.

For Christians, we might as well find a backbone because it’s not going to get any easier. The statistic that 70-80 percent of America is “Christian” is going to change in the coming years if we maintain our nation’s current moral trajectory.

It’s going to change because those calling themselves “Christians” that are only false converts sitting in pews will leave the church due to greater persecution. We already see it happening. Anyone not truly sincere about their faith will depart. The social status benefits of church won’t outweigh the persecution wielded upon Christianity.

In addition, churches will compromise the word of God by accepting, even promoting, sin in their ranks. It, too, is already happening in mainstream denominations and has begun to creep into more fundamentalist denominations through sexual orientation and gender issues.

The overall result will be that hatred toward Christians will increase. Dinner conversations that were once possible will deteriorate. Jesus stated in Matthew 10:34-36, ““Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’” It’s inevitable because unbelievers hate Jesus.

Jesus predicted what’s coming in John 15:18-25:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me [Jesus] first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

So what we see in the news and around the country today shouldn’t surprise us. As Christians, we should expect and prepare for hatred and vitriol. Our responsibility is to not allow our love to grow cold and we are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). In the meantime, we are also to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) to a dying world. It’s through the love of God in us that this is possible.

Christians, unless God intervenes in the course of our nation, greater persecutions are coming. Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (Matthew 10:16-26). Be faithful to the end and rest in His love and grace during your trials. When grace is needed to endure persecution, He will amply provide.

Know that suffering is a part of the Christian life. Jesus suffered for us and we will suffer for His name’s sake. During that time, our lives will be used of Him to point others to Him. That’s reward enough for having persevered in the faith.