Sunday, January 7, 2018
Really Making America Great Again
We’ve Got to Be Better As Things Get Worse
Really Making America Great Again
Thanks to Marilyn Hanson, an elder at Belvidere, Illinois’ First Presbyterian Church who prayed and cared for me during the early years of our life and ministry together on the corner of Lincoln and Main as we labored to build upon the best of the past for a better future focused on and filtered through Jesus by the book, I’ve become a regular reader of The Week: The Best of U.S. and International Media since she surprised me with a gift subscription after a few years of me pestering her for her copy after she introduced me to it.
Unlike talk radio, the alphabet soup of network and cable news programs, and most newspapers, it’s really fair and balanced; providing, as they claim, the best of journalism from left, right, up, down, and all around. The Week takes an issue, puts conflicting commentaries side by side, and lets readers sort it out for themselves.
Editor-in-chief William Falk captured my attention with a cautionary column about this moment in American history: “This is the 16th time since The Week launched in 2001 that I’ve used this little space to try to make some sense of the world at year’s end. Through this exercise, I’ve been surprised to discover I’m an optimist, despite my veneer of journalistic cynicism…bred to believe that tomorrow will be better than today, that human ingenuity can surmount all obstacles, that goodness wins out over evil in the end” (December 22-29, 2017).
Then reversing direction, he lamented, “But after one of the strangest, most tumultuous, and most disorienting years in our history, I must confess to moments of doubt and fear.”
Sounding like a Biblical eschatologist who knows our world’s meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance will increase in frequency and intensity as the end approaches, he continued, “Never in my lifetime, even in the 1960s, has the country felt so fractured – so close to a civil war. Our one nation, allegedly indivisible, has cracked open along fault lines of culture, class, religion, and partisan identity, creating chasms of mutual incomprehension and disdain. Politics has devolved into a winner-take-all blood sport. Virtually everything is politicized, from football to wedding cakes.”
After citing a particular illustrative challenge of his general concern, he concluded, “Our democracy will be sorely tested; in the crucible, we will discover whether character, decency, truth, and the rule of law still matter. I’d like to think we will pass the test. Happy New Year, friends.”
Every historian knows every empire has risen, peaked, and then virtually disappeared throughout history.
While our national arrogance would assume our exception to that rule, the signs of decline are unmistakable at a seemingly exponential pace; provoking a pessimism that our best days are behind us.
Simply, can we turn America around?
Twisting a little phrase that may seem tired by now, “Can we make America great again?”
Why and how move from interrogative to declarative for us just as it did when God sent an angel to a young woman who would carry irresistible and undefeatable hope into the world through virgin birth to encourage hope that America and the rest of the world can be great: “Nothing is impossible with God!”
Of course, that’s the kicker.
Nothing is impossible with God; betraying the corollary that nothing important/beneficial/positive/enduring/eternal is possible without God.
Questions are begging to be asked in America.
How’s it been going since abortion on demand has been legalized?
How’s it been going since Biblically Christocentric behaviors have been undermined, contradicted, convoluted, defied, and rejected?
How’s it been going since God’s been thrown out of classrooms, colleges, courtrooms, council chambers, commerce, and Congress?
How’s your life and family been going since worship became infrequent, rare, optional, discretionary, or not at all?
How’s your church been going with a pastor who chokes on the name of Jesus and quotes Oprah, Joy, and Dr. Phil more than Holy Scripture?
How’s your denomination been going since it’s moved farther and farther and farther away from Jesus by the book?
How’s America been going since it’s forgotten or felt embarrassed by the faith of our founding mothers and fathers?
How’s it been going without God?
If it’s not been going that well without God, wouldn’t it make sense to start going with God?
Has anyone ever defined insanity for you?
That was rhetorical.
Alexis de Tocqueville, the 19th century French diplomat best known for Democracy in America, observed and predicted, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
His observation and prediction were clear.
The roots of America’s greatness are in God as revealed in Old and New Testaments; and if America ever backs off or away from those relational roots, America, like every other empire, will decline immediately and then disappear from history’s pages.
Benjamin Franklin said, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”
Today, I see it this way: “The difference between coal and diamonds is pressure.”
America is under pressure by dark conspiracies orchestrated by evil and its master to decline and die without God according to the lie from the pit of hell that we can make it on our own.
America will either crack under the pressure or return to Him and become the gem amid the fiberglass and show the way to a greatness restored by a reborn relationship with God.
Mark Twain put it this way: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
Obviously, everyone was born; but not everyone lives.
It’s like my friend Tony says, “Stop praying, ‘If I should die before I wake.’ You need to start praying, ‘if I should wake before I die.’”
Do you have a raison d’etre – a purpose to live and go on?
Or is your life a cameo in AMC’s The Walking Dead?
The 17th century Westminster Divines were right when they confessed, “Our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, “It is still ‘either-or.’ If we insist on keeping Hell, we shall not see Heaven. If we accept Heaven, we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”
Here’s the bottom line for America.
Are we going to move into the future with or without God?
That’s the question.
Here’s the answer.
America has no future without God.
God will bless America if we go into the future with Him.
It’s that simple.
America has a decision to make: “See, today, I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity…Choose life so that you and your descendents may live, love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life!”
With God or without God?
That’s America’s choice.
One way is heavenly while the other leads straight to…
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!