08 July 2016

Is America God-Forsaken?

I truly am not an alarmist, even if the title here seems to give evidence to the contrary.  I realize that bad stuff has happened throughout our country's history, so bad stuff happening now is technically nothing new.  I'm aware that I'm a middle-aged adult, who now sees my society differently than when I was a younger man.  Hopefully, I see it a little more comprehensively while recognizing its complexity.  But I see our nation's overall trajectory through the lens of Scripture more than ever.  And as I reflect on the nation's past and the present, my heart grieves for a society that seems determined to shake off God's guidance in exchange for its own destruction.  We can talk about race, tolerance, gun control, civil rights, freedom, individuality, politics, corruption, hate, the left, the right, religion or whatever else, but the heart of the matter is our relationship to God.

Collectively, the American heart is far from God.  We are proud.  We are rebellious.  We are spoiled.  We have progressively unfettered ourselves from God.  We no longer even acknowledge our dependence on Him.  We have substituted the supremacy of individualism for His authority.  We have killed our unborn in the name of choice and convenience.  We have removed our acknowledgement of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from our public spaces.  We have cowardly allowed minority voices to vilify the name of Jesus Christ.  We have allowed biblical sexuality and marriage to be perverted.  We have forsaken our children at home with easy divorce.  We have allowed greed and corruption to exploit the weak and enslave our children and grandchildren to debt.  We prostitute ourselves to idols of materialism.  We casually allow the poison of pornography to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually warp our children.  We choose to have no restraints, and we are idiots for it.  I'm sure I've left stuff out, but you get the point.

Proverbs 29:18 continues to resonate in my mind and heart.  America has increasingly unfettered itself from God and the people have become more and more unrestrained.  We are driven by lust, selfishness, and greed.  We have told God to take a hike.  And now we are discovering what it's like to walk without Him.  I'm confident that as long as we walk away from God on our own path, things will continue to get worse, not better.  The trail will get more difficult and dangerous, not easier.  And the destination will be death, not life. 

We can keep doing what we are doing, or we can really think about what it's going to take to turn this thing around.  We can keep pointing fingers, some blaming the liberals and some blaming the conservatives.  We can keep trying to find a common enemy to rally against, like ISIS.  We can keep stupidly asserting that if everyone will just be tolerant, then somehow peace will overwhelm us and people will start behaving better.  We can keep blaming the politicians.  We can keep blaming racists cops.  We can keep blaming the NRA.  We can keep blaming Wall Street.  We can keep blaming those religious people.  And while everyone is blaming someone else, we will continue to perish.
But what if we dared to submit to God?  What if we each owned the mess we are in?  What if we confessed we had created the mess?  What if our hearts were broken?  Not that we were just saddened by the latest news, but truly recognizing that we are reaping what we have sown.  What if we interpreted our perishing as God's prompt for us to turn back to Him?

Now listen carefully.  I'm not talking about "them." I'm talking about us.  I'm talking about believers.  I'm talking about the church.  Awakening cannot come to a nation of people, until real revival comes to the people of God.  And revival does not come to a church until believers confess they have not been keeping God's commands or living by His standards. Revival comes when believers repent and truly turn from wicked ways and pursue God with earnestness and sincerity.  Revival comes when the people of God place themselves under the authority of God's Word and commit to conform themselves to its precepts and principles, rather than to this world's notions.  Revival comes when we humbly acknowledge our dependence on God and reject our rebellious self-sufficiency.

The answer for America's ills will be found in the churches.  If the churches experience real revival, the nation can experience an awakening.  If the nation experiences an awakening, God will hear and heal the land.  However, if the churches continue to sleep, God will continue to remove His hand and leave us to our own depravity. 

It's time for the church to seek real revival and turn from its superficiality.  It's time for our hearts to be broken over our sin.  It's time to choose God's commands rather than our own opinions.  It's time to seek God with all our hearts, repent of our unbelief and rebelliousness, and renew our walk with Him.  Then, and only then, will we see mercy and justice built on the right foundation. 

You may think that this is simplistic.  Maybe you think this is silly.  But consider this.  No matter what kind of corruption, perversion, injustice or evil we most lately find ourselves absorbing, the source of the deeds are people's hearts.   And what we must first acknowledge is that the heart is desperately wicked and not to be trusted to itself without God's guidance.  And God's guidance is not my notion of what I think God must be like, which naturally just becomes a projection of myself.  God's guidance is His Word, the Bible.  And we either seek to know it and submit to it, or we ignore it and rebel against it. 

Church, it's time to acknowledge that something is dreadfully wrong.  It's time to admit that we have not been loyal to God.  It's time to smash our idols and repent.  It's time to renew our walk with Christ and be the light and salt He told us to be.  It's time to be unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our churches and in our lives.  It's time to love God first, so we can love each other.  It's time to draw a line and choose life with God over death without Him.  It's time to boldly declare God's truth, be humble, do justice, and show kindness.

It's time to get off social media, turn off the relentless cable news, and get together and seek God and pray.  It's time to get our hearts right.  Will God forsake America?  In my opinion it's already begun.  It's been happening, but we have been too proud and foolish to see it.  The evidence is all around us.  The question remains as to what we, the church, will do?          

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