I’m reading an interesting book called “A Free People’s Suicide” by Os Guinnes. It was recommended by Eric Metaxas as a genesis for his new book, “If You Can Keep It.”
One of the questions asked by the Os Guinnes early in the book is, as Americans, who do we think we are? We used to be the missionaries to the world. We used to be the defenders of freedom to the world. We used to be rebels, scoundrels, yet held the concept of freedom and liberty high. We had unique and dignified young men step to a gallows and say, “My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country.”
Who are we now?
We have the highest standard of living in the world, but not the highest life expectancy. Nor do we have the best healthcare. Nor do we have the best education system. We spend the most on our military, but don’t take care of our veterans. We talk about equal rights, but are still working through racial acrimony. We are the world’s inventors, but don’t build what we invent.
Who are we now?
This is an important question. Are we going to keep our international commitments, or tuck tail back into our shell? Are we going to sacrifice liberties guaranteed by the United States Constitution for a bit of perceived safety or some esoteric political agenda? Are we going to care for our veterans, our poor, our sick, our mentally ill, or are we going to allow our recent heathcare experiment to wallow into ruin?
Who are we now?
There are problems that this nation must confront, and before we can confront them, we have to decide who we are. Are we the same nation that was founded on liberty? Or do we emasculate the Constitution to grovel at the feet of the globalists? How can we address the racial divide until we decide who we are? How can we address healthcare, abortion, the deficit, minimum wage, who uses which bathroom, or who to elect President unless we know who we are?
I have a great love for this country, and the current condition of the government, the politics, the society, the culture leaves me hurting. It was the love of this country that brought me back to God, and sharpened my focus on all things moral. It was that love that ended 28 years of atheism. You see, I found a place very similar to Ben Franklin, when during the development of the US Constitution, and they came to an impasse and he asked the congress to mandate daily prayer. But here is what he said that resonates so loudly with me, “I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?” Let me ask you this, can an empire, or a government, of the people, by the people, and for the people flourish without the hand of God on the steering wheel?
I’m not wanting to go back to segregation, shaming, lynchings, or other ugliness of the past. But I do want us to become a Christian nation once again. I want to be able to say the name Jesus without risking a lawsuit. You see, I believe, as does Eric Metaxas, that for liberty to shine in the land, we must be a moral and virtuous country. Those morals and that virtue is not one of the things that we are endowed with by our creator, those are things that are learned. We as a country just have stopped teaching them.
Who are we now?
The events of last week have caused me to look deep and listen and try to learn about the hurt and anxiety of different groups within our society. I have many friends who don’t look like me and don’t see the world the same as I do. I treasure their opinion.
One thing that sank home this week was the Black Lives Matter movement strikes a chord in the black community. Since I’m not a member of that community, and never could be, I will not ever understand that harmony. When a member of another community responds with “All Lives Matter,” what the black community hears is “black lives don’t matter as much.”
It’s impossible to tell people how to feel. It’s impossible to walk a mile in their shoes. It’s impossible legislate or force change on the bigoted souls in any community.
When I’m presented with a problem that seemingly cannot be solved, I need to turn to God and see if he has an answer. Thankfully, for this, he does. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34. As we can see from this scripture in the Book of John, that Jesus commanded us to love one another. But that’s not the starting point. He says that “As I loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus loved us first. My life matters to him. Your life matters to him. So that leads us to the answer. Yes, black lives matter. Yes, all lives matter. But what’s more important is that as far as the King of King and Lord of Lords is concerned, your life matters.
“Red and yellow, black or white, we are precious in his sight…” This children’s church song from long ago clearly is true. We are to love like Jesus loves. He loved us first, all of us. He went to the cross and endured the suffering and shame in love for us. There is not one of us who deserves what he did, but he left that salvation, love and righteousness open to all. You don’t qualify, but he doesn’t care. You can’t measure up, but he is not holding any measure. All he does is stand with open arms waiting for you to make a decision and come to him.
So, after all this, I will answer anybody who says to me, “Black lives matter,” or “All lives matter,” with a simple, “Your life matters.”
I choose to see the dignity and goodness in every man. I choose to hold your uniqueness in the highest respect. If I am a true follower of Jesus, how can I do any less?
We aren’t as innocent as we were
We woke up this morning to a different world. We woke up to a world where snipers in cities target police officers, and the body count ran up.
I don’t want to live in a violent society, and I don’t want my kids to live in a violent society, but I feel like we have a rough patch to go through before it gets any better. For the last twenty years, this has been building. I’m not talking about racial tensions, I felt they were getting better until the politicizing of several high profile cases in recent years. I hold the media and the current administration responsible for that. Instead of building bridges, they have spent time burning them down and building a wave of hatred that erupted last night.
They are not the only ones that I lay blame with.
I lay the rest of the blame on you and me. When the nightclub in Paris was attacked and more than 100 people were killed, we put up banners about praying for Paris, but we didn’t do anything more than that. When the nightclub in Orlando was attacked, we put up banners about praying for Orlando, but we didn’t do more than that. Now that five police officers are laying on cold slabs, with ungodly violations of their dead bodies grossly evident, what will we do?
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
- Martin Niemoller
The poem above kind of says it all. If you are willing to allow evil to take place and not denounce it when it happens to people who are NOT like you. You will ultimately allow it to happen to you. Evil is an all-consuming fire and it not stop because we want it to. It will not stop with new laws or a really cool Facebook banner. It only stops when we stop it. If we stop it through violence, we run the risk of becoming evil ourselves. We have to stop evil not with violence, but with love and understanding.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Preamble of the Declaration of Independence
There is a lot of wisdom in those words. The truth is self-evident, which means you can see the truth of that without having to search for proof. All men are created equal, they are created in the image of God, and given free will to make as much or as little out of their lives as they wish. There are unalienable rights, which means these rights cannot be separated from any man by any man. Among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. These words make my throat tight and I need to blink a tear or two away. The truth, the absolute universal, unvarnished truth of these words is so honest and real that they are brutal in their simplicity.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
The above passage is Jesus telling his disciples to love one another, and throughout the New Testament we are told to love one another, we would love ourselves. But we don’t show that love. It’s was incredibly hard for me to hear the word love outside of my family. When my wife and I started going to small group on Wednesday night, when the leader told us she loved us, I didn’t know what to say. The word rang hollow to me. But now that I’ve done more growing and my heart has actually grown to allow more love, I can tell people that I love them, and I hope to love all men and women, in a brotherly, neighborly way.
So that brings us back to what are we to do? I commit to doing the following: I will no longer post or say anything that is hateful or mean spirited. I will not do that in a journal, I will not do that on any social media, I will not allow hateful or mean spirited words to cross my lips, and I will try very hard not to let that cross my mind. I will rebuke myself when I fail in that respect. I will pray for this nation every night. I will ask God to pour out His love so that all can feel the heart He has for us. I will reach out and help anybody, of any race, creed, color, religion or circumstance that I can. I will also set up a day of prayer on Sunday, July 31st so we can all take a moment and ask God to help us be better people, and to love our fellow man in a way that will be pleasing to God.
We are not so innocent any more. We woke up in a different world this morning. However, as I find myself in that different world, I find that there is no room for hatred in my heart. I will love, and spread love and understanding, more than any hatred or discord.
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
Father, we are heartbroken. We have allowed ourselves to become self-centered, sarcastic and skeptical. We do not listen to you, nor do we seek you daily. In our arrogance we have become accepting of hatred and evil in our very midst. Help us to become more loving and understanding. Give us boldness to stand up to evil. Help us praise you and keep you as the Holy God you are. Help us to love. Let us see the dignity in every single man and woman on this earth. There is no room for hatred in our hearts. Help us understand your plan, and how we can work within it. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.
What does that phrase do for you? Does it invoke pride? Does it make you want to thank God for what he has done for this country? Does it make you weep at the current state of the country? Or does it make you feel like you just heard fingernails on a blackboard?
Each of us has to process our faith, and figure out what is most important. There are many approaches and I’m sure you could find a church or three that would tell you (and tell you again). But what I wanted to talk about today is, do you believe that the United States of America is a Christian Nation?
In 1620, the Pilgrims came to Massachusetts to escape the religious tyranny of England. They came to be able to practice their Christian religion without persecution. It was a brave and unique thing they did. They basically gambled everything they had, their lives, the lives of their children, and their entire estates for being able to move and live in the new world. The first winter was brutal with almost half their number dying. But they survived and began to learn how to live in the new world. During the voyage over they wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact. In the second paragraph of the document, it says, “Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic...”
That sounds to me like the first colony was dedicated to Christian beliefs.
If we scroll ahead 160 years we see what George Washington said at his inauguration: “Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” What President Washington is saying is that we have been given a country by God, and we need to follow his rules and practices in order to keep our country.
That sounds to me like a country that owes it’s existence to God.
A mere 80 years further into the future we get so see some of the wisdom of President Lincoln: “Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.” Lincoln plainly says that we need Christianity and firm reliance on Him, meaning God.
That sounds to me like the nation needed God at it’s lowest point.
Regardless of your politics or preferences, we are in a desperate situation as a country. We have an election coming up that may be the ugliest ever. We have issues surrounding us that are true and present dangers to this nation and our way of life, but are not addressed because of petty partisan politics, or political correctness. If you love this country, if you want to see a change, what are you willing to change yourself?
I close this message with prayer I wrote for my book “Prayer for Our Nation.” It is the final group prayer in that study guide. It seems rather poignant today.
Lord, you have been so kind and gracious to this country and her people. You brought forth great explorers to determine her length and breadth and to find all the wondrous resources you had hidden away for us. You brought the refuse of other countries and made them into nation builders and built this nation from nothing to the greatest country on earth. Today we stand at a crossroads, where we as a nation have started to turn away from you. We can continue to do so, at the risk of judgment or social stagnation. Or we can turn back to you and seek those blessings that made us great. Lord we ask that you help us turn back to you, soften the hearts that are now turned against you, open eyes to see and ears to hear. May this land once again resound with the praises of her people for you. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.