Honestly, I don’t know anyone who’s happy with the direction our culture has taken, the tone it’s so largely adopted, and the resulting cynicism. Watching its decay, both in stature and morality, combined with the relentless tragedies crashing over us like one angry wave after another, is like observing an aging parent who was once godly but has now chosen a debauched lifestyle. You want to scream, “You used to be better than this, and you taught me to be better, too! What happened?”
That’s demoralizing. Of course, on the one hand, believers have always known that America and the Church are hardly the same. Rich in greatness of all sorts, our nation it’s still secular. As such, it’s always been part of the World, this fallen environment which Paul said is, by nature, in rebellion against God, filled with “the sons of disobedience,” and governed by the original rebel, “the prince of the power of the air.” (Eph. 2:2) Boatloads of temporary moral reform can’t change that.
So OK, America’s not a church nor, thank God, a theocracy. But you can’t deny that it was also guided, largely and openly, by Judeo-Christian distinctives it now seems to disregard, minimize, or openly oppose.
That’s why taking a glance at national security, economic stability, the erosion of Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, family and social standards, and the general tone of public discourse, makes me feel like I’m either at a deathbed or a funeral.
I don’t think it’s so much a case of us completely giving up. It’s more like a kind of post-iceberg Titanic attitude saying, “Looks like we’re going down. If the hole can be patched, or more lifeboats built, or if there’s anything else that I can do, text me.”
At least, that’s where I am today: a grumpy Evangelical Boomer trying to keep the right perspective during what seem to be such wrong times. Here are a few points I’m trying to keep in mind.
Kingdom above Country
When John the Baptist was unfairly facing execution for calling Herod out on his illicit union he seems to have hit a wall, and who could blame him? So he sent word to Jesus with what seems, in retrospect, an astounding question: Are you really the One, or did I get it wrong? (Matthew 11:3)
Wow. Here’s a guy who leapt in his mother’s womb in the presence of the not-yet-born Messiah, who he later recognized as the Lamb of God and insisted people follow. Yet even he, fill of the Spirit from birth, had
Jesus’ response to him was, to my thinking, an encouragement coupled with a gentle rebuke:
“The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:5)
“The Kingdom continues, my friend”, He seemed to have said, “despite the current bleakness. So long as God redeems, heals, and liberates, there’s solid reason for joy. My Kingdom, only partly manifest now, is alive and well, and coming in fullness.”
Never was that more true. So first, I will refuse to give up on my country because where there’s life, there’s hope. And what the heck do I know, anyway? Things may not be nearly as severe as I see them, and they may turn around in astonishing ways, a miracle which has historical and Biblical precedence.
So Memo to Self: “It’s the Kingdom, stupid.”
Consistency above Criticism
If I’m grieved at how unaligned so many people are with God’s will, and despairing over the lack of concern so many seem to have with basic notions of rightness and decency, I need to remember that just because my surroundings aren’t submitted to God, I can still be.
In fact, when Jesus said to check the log in your own eye first (Matthew 7:5) He hit on a principle which not only confronts hypocrisy but which also, to my thinking, offers hope today: nothing is preventing me from living an obedient life!
The Holy Spirit is still wanting to transform, the Word still guides and edifies, and abiding in Him still guarantees good, eternal fruit. (John 15:5) So rather than despair over the wrong around me, I would do better by first addressing the wrong within me.
I can grow in grace, shed the dead, run the race, and conquer. Along those lines, here’s a puddle I really want to roll around in for a bit this evening:
Every promise of God is still available, and potent, no matter who is or isn’t taking Him up on them.
Well, I can, and I will. Because personal consistency is something I still have a say on; something I can commit to, continue in, and rejoice over when I give a final account for my own life and actions.
Love above All
I follow a Lord who has pretty strong feelings about my neighbor. He tells me to love that woman or man as I love myself, and He made no bones about what love entails when He described a Samaritan who applied himself to meeting needs and displaying concern, respect, and practical kindness. (Luke 10:25-37)
As long as I have neighbors, and as long as the love of Christ is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit, I can still love my neighbor and thereby do what I’m here to do.
So I’ll prayerfully consider how to serve where service is needed, how to love when love is craved, and how to comfort, weep alongside, lend a hand to, and share eternal truths with the neighbors God’s placed me among.
I feel a little better now, with some hope grounded in truth, and a commission which transcends the social and political trends I’m so
Because there’s still my Father’s business to be about. There always will be. And I’ll always be able to be about it.