I’ve probably been reading too much news lately, and it has created a sense of heaviness in my heart. I tweeted yesterday, “For me, today, the world seems ‘scary big.’ And God is infinitely bigger.” A few friends assumed I must be going through some personal pain, but my feeling really flowed out of my observations about the erosion of our national conscience. We have little clue what life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness are really all about anymore.
In America, we ridicule those who ascribe life’s origins to a divine Designer. We demand that even the most general reference to the Creator, whom we say endowed us with our unalienable rights and might have some word to guide us, be stricken from public mention. In America, we are outraged over photos of a dead big game animal in Africa and wink at 50 million aborted babies so that we can protect the reproductive choices of adults.
In America, we see an influx of scared, hungry, and often sick children escaping countries dominated by gangs and drug lords as a threat to our first world way of life rather than as a humanitarian opportunity for non-governmental organizations to give new hope to the young and hopeless. We allow our aging veterans to suffer because of the inconvenience of cutting red tape to provide for their medical needs. Our governments not only sanction but sponsor the oppression of the poor and the addict through what we nicely term “gaming.”
Those who work pay a large percentage of their income into a government that must still borrow trillions in debt from potential enemies, send billions in aid to other potential enemies, and fund bureaucracies and agencies that are often irrelevant and completely inefficient and at times, downright dangerous. When it comes to the pursuit of happiness, we’ve sought fulfillment through a long list of counterfeits and substitutes.
Our sexual ethic places self and pleasure on the throne to the degree that anything goes. We abandon, neglect, and divorce our families to shreds on the altar of what we believe will make us happiest at the moment. And a growing percentage of us who could otherwise work to provide a living for ourselves and our families have chosen instead to rely on a welfare state for our income. I speak in generalities here knowing there are obvious exceptions – people who suffer innocently from hardships beyond their control – but generalities by their nature point to what is more commonly the case.
I’ve found myself searching recently within my own heart for the answers, and specifically for what I can do as one guy – a single citizen, a husband, a Dad, a worker. I see little hope in either major political party, both of which have well-established machinery to maintain and wealthy, powerful people to please. And I certainly see no historical tendency of any government in any age correcting its own abuses of power without being checked and balanced by its people.
All that we see unfolding politically before us is a mere symptom of our deeper spiritual brokenness as a society. Our elections are but the thermometer reflecting the core temperature of our souls. And the answer is not in any sectarian people rising to power over others – the kingdom never works that way. It is more subversive, more servant-hearted. Real change that lasts happens in the mind and heart of a people, not the voting booth or picket line.
So my heart is heavy for the condition of my nation. But I am not hopeless. I hold onto hope because of something other-worldly, future-minded, and invisibly but no less powerfully able to right the ship. W. A. Criswell had similar observations over the years of his ministry as a Pastor, and he preached a sermon at least a half dozen times to his own flock in Dallas, Texas in which he proclaimed these words:
As Isaiah declared, “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation” (10:5). That is the message of God to America today. We cannot continue in drunkenness, debauchery, blasphemy, and desecration and not face the inevitable judgment of Almighty God… It is hard for us to realize that America could be lost, that our nation could be destroyed, and that we could be confronted by implacable and ruthless enemies, but that is an imponderable in the hands of Almighty God. Whether we live or die lies in the sovereign judgments of the Judge of all the nations.
… Revival will save a nation. It saved Judah in the days of Hezekiah. It saved England in the days of the Wesleys. Revival will save a city. It saved Nineveh in the days of Jonah. It saved Antioch in the days of John Chrysostom. It saved Florence, Italy, in the days of Savonarola. Revival will save a home; it will save a life. It did yesterday; it does today; and it will forever.
And lest you mistake his words as political in their essence, he continues…
Revival is a Christian word. It is a family word. The lost are not revived. They are dead in trespasses and in sin. The lost need to be resurrected. They need to be born again. They need life out of death. It is the Christian people, the family of God who need to be revived.
I hope in the sovereign God of the nations. I hope in His eternal message of redemption for all who will trust Him. I hope in the grace-giving Master of the universe who heals and resurrects the spiritually dead and lifeless. He is the Judge of all the earth, and He will make all things right, and all things new.
I will never be the President and will likely never serve in any kind of political office. I don’t have the millions and billions that many philanthropic activists have at their disposal. But I do have knees and feet and hands and a voice. And on my knees I can repent of my sin and the darkness that lurks in my own heart. From my knees I can pray prayers that move the arm the moves the world. With my hands I can serve. On my feet I can go and carry the story of Jesus to those searching for hope. And with my voice I can proclaim God’s absolute, unchanging and unalterable truth from His Word to my own generation.
I hope to live out the legacy of a young shepherd-boy turned king from centuries ago. “Now David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, died…” (Acts 13:36 NIV).