Trying Times For Our People
There are times that try the souls of men. We live in such a time. There is reason for grave concern regarding the future of our land and the freedoms afforded its citizens. While we do not suggest that there is any infallible system of human government, we are persuaded that our system has allowed the freedoms that make possible the dignity of man more than any other. As Churchill is reported to have said that democracy was not a perfect form of government but was better than anything else.
We live in an age when mankind can literally destroy all of civilization in a few moments. As one has said, “All men can be cremated equally.”
Christians should be disturbed over the dark clouds on the religious scene. History shows such has always existed, but the magnitude of problems sometimes seems overwhelming. We shall not allow ourselves to become frantic and despondent, however, because even though we know not what the future holds, we know Who holds the future. Our concern is not so much for ourselves as for the generations that follow us. We preach the word of God as the solution to man's ills, yet too many are neither aware or concerned about these ills let alone the solution to them. Being overly pessimistic is not the position to take, but a better grasp of realism is in order.
Internationally our nation has declined in recent decades. Having lost prestige among nations, both friend and foe debase our name and trample and burn our flag. We have been embarrassed in many quarters of the world. The pulpit is not the forum for economic, military, and political disputes but we cite this decline as evidence that we have cause for concern. Throughout my lifetime there have been secret and diabolical commitments and agreements made by those in power of which the nation has been kept ignorant that has proved to be our undoing. More than once the goals and aspirations of the nation have been subverted at the conference tables to the extent that our influence for good has been seriously curtailed.
Gains By Enemies
The hard, cold fact is that atheistic communism has made sweeping gains in our world while we have been in retreat. Even the religions of violence and tyranny have forced America into spending itself into near bankruptcy simply for self-protection. Our enemies can and do start trouble anywhere in the world they see fit and we are forced to expend our resources to contain it lest it grow into a wildfire that incinerates us. The struggle between tyranny and freedom continues and many who want freedom flirt and give support to enemies of freedom. Communists boast they shall bury us without an all out war.
America, once a loved nation, and still a nation where millions would come if they could, has spent billions upon billions feeding hungry people, rehabilitating war torn nations, even our enemies. With a compassion and sympathy for the less fortunate, America has done more than any nation in history to provide for others. Of course, this has been to our advantage as well as those in need. But in spite of this unprecedented aid and relief, even those who have been aided often remain our enemies.
We are accused of pride, arrogance, throwing our weight around, and doubtless, in many instances, this has been a fault. But the response to our assistance has as often been a rebuke for not doing more than even a feeble “thank you” for what is done. This climate among nations should be a cause for concern to every free American, especially Christians.
What may be a symptom of our gross unawareness is the attitude that we, among all nations of history, cannot and shall not fall. We pray that such may be the case, but where do we have the assurance that we shall not reap the whirlwind of the internal decay that has grown to epidemic proportions in our nation? What has happened to other civilizations and nations can happen to us when we run the same course.
The moral decline in America is too well documented for debate. What many have called an expanse of liberty has been nothing more than the excess of license. The moral fiber is the strength of our nation; yet, from the highest positions to the man in the street we see moral degeneracy. Some call college cheating, television scandal, exploitation, dishonesty, riots, and just normal factors of national life. Well they might be. But let us not be naive and gullible and think that such does not extract its cost in time. The glamorization of evil and the suppression of righteousness is not the path to security of our nation. We still believe that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” This breakdown of moral fiber causes the Christian his deepest concerns for the oncoming generations. The very quality that has made our nation great has suffered tremendous erosion, and we are blind fools to ignore it. How long can a society pursue the road of selfishness, greed, pleasure, sin, indulgence, repudiation of what is decent, moral, and true and survive? With the lack of respect for authority, the parasite complex that others owe me, vicious crimes, delinquency of adults and juveniles, divorce, propagation of atheism and the loss of respect for the dignity of human life as seen by abortion, we have serious problems confronting us. Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” It seems that many in America have turned things around just as Isaiah said. With a heart filled with materialistic ambitions, more concerned for power, money, and prestige than honor, truth, and loyalty to God, we have reason to believe these are trying times for the people of God.
There must be a return to discipline, self-discipline, which is a mark of genuine maturity. Work, self-control, sacrifice are virtues that many have buried and have tried to replace them with a “sexual revolution.” The widespread sexual immorality in America is shocking even to nations who do not know or care for the true and living God. Pornography, not just what is called hard-core, is in evidence on television, in literature, and tragically, in the lives of millions. The continued bombardment to make socially acceptable homosexuality, lesbianism, divorce, abortion, gambling, drunkenness, fornication, are signs of our times, and they are creating trying times for the people of God.
While the way of Jesus Christ is the way of hope and solution, the forces that profess to follow Christ are so hopelessly divided that so often there is impotency and incapacity to have much influence. Even among brethren who profess to follow the New Testament revelation there is squabbling over opinions and hobbies alongside innovations that imitate the unauthorized denominational world. There have been “spiritual pygmies” in every generation, but many brethren are like parents who are awakened by the house on fire, and who argue over what clothing will be appropriate to wear while the fire endangers their children. Division is devastating to the cause of Christ and Jesus knew it and prayed for unity (John 17: 20-21). God's wrath is directed toward those who would forever be snipping at the heals of the faithful, demanding their human legalism, or arrogantly forcing their departures from the truth. With hundreds of divisions in the religious world, and the world on the brink of becoming a burning ball that would destroy mankind, with souls wallowing in the mire of sin and hell's gates forced wide to embrace the condemned, why, or why cannot those who say they love the will of God cease the injection of their human doctrines, with which they are obsessed, and abandon their schemes and projects that they think are better than truth, and return to the work of saving souls rather than making loud noises of confusion!
A Dark Picture
You might complain at this point that I have been painting a dark picture. But this I deny. I am trying to unveil the dark picture that the sins of our nation have already painted and to which we need to assign our attention. I suppose, in typical American style, I should turn just here and simple wave the hand and say, “Everything is going to be all right.” I truly believe things could be much better and that there is hope for the land of my fore parents and descendants. But it will not be accomplished by pretending all is well, and there is peace, when such is not reality.
Christ Is The Way
Our hope rests in training our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Our hope resides in the national return to morality, individual responsibility, integrity, and a separation from materialism and godlessness. The only antidote to that which inevitably will destroy America is to re-emphasize that which has made America the great nation it has been; namely, a spiritual and moral awakening and conformity to the standards of Almighty God. Do you know any other cure? To whom can we turn except to the way of God? Only solid convictions and faithfulness to them can provide the anchor for the nation lest it continue to drift, and sometimes, run, toward its own collapse. If I were not convinced of this, I would not be spending my life and energies working to that end. I know this is right because such is the warning and message of God to all men everywhere. There is the awesome need of people who will “stand in the gap” and live in such fashion that they can be counted on the side of truth. It is the only way open to us. All else will prove futile.
Where We Are
Sometimes I feel toward our homeland like I felt when I was a youngster and the family had gone into the Smoky Mountains for a brief vacation. One day it rained in torrents and there were landslides, one that took away about half of the roadway, back down the mountain. I recall traffic being backed up for miles and patrol officers carefully directed each car across the narrow ledge that could still be used. In time, it was our turn to pass the slide area. Everyone except my father walked across, as was being done with each family, and Dad drove the car. As everyone watched, and the story was repeated with each vehicle, great concern existed lest that which remained cave in.
I feel at times America is standing on a ledge that appears could collapse, but so many are unconcerned to the danger as they blindly, foolishly, defiantly run their own ways to the disregard of God. Even many in the church are straining at gnats, swallowing camels, missing the mark, restructuring and redirecting the church into paths of compromise and the failures of the world, fumbling at hobbies and imitating denominations. Like the proverbial ostrich, some hide their heads in the sands, pretending it is not so.
Woodrow Wilson once said, “I had rather be right and lose than be wrong and win.” How we need this spirit among us! Christians will not ultimately lose because they have God's promise of eternal victory. But Christians are also concerned for others, for future generations, and have respect and gratitude for that which was done in the past that has provided them tremendous blessings. Christians, though centering their concerns on eternity, are not aware that this life is the time of preparation for eternity and must concern themselves with that which is around them. Hope for the nation, we believe, is not beyond us. But we must awaken from the slumber and lethargy that characterizes so many.
We shall not stand before God in judgment as a nation, but as individuals. Each one must be concerned for his or her soul as well as the souls of others. Salvation is only in Christ. Faith and obedience to the gospel is God's plan and all who shall be saved must comply.