America the Beautiful or America the Insane?

Across all the political spectrum, there is a growing sense that this is no longer grandpa’s America.  The right wing, left wing and all points in between, are suggesting that presently there is a national insanity and it seems to be growing.  And these varied voices just might be right.  Consider some recent events.

A man threatens to kill the three young children of a congressman who is held responsible for the (alleged) separation of children from parents among those who have entered the country illegally.  The White House press secretary is forcefully asked to leave a restaurant at the start of the meal because the restaurant staff is traumatized by the presence of someone who works for Donald Trump.  A retired US soldier says that if there is an attempt to remove Donald Trump from the presidency, this will result in armed violence and bloodshed.  Target, in spite of declining sales, promotes enthusiastically its “gay pride” month with all kinds of “gay pride” merchandise for adults and children.  The long respected FBI and DOJ are under congressional scrutiny for dishonesty of all kinds.  Many NFL players have so politicized football that it seems less of a game and more of a social protest platform.  Universities where free speech was once a hallmark, now classify some free speech as not acceptable. Politicians openly suggest that active revolution is acceptable even if it includes violating established laws. (Note: Newton’s law of physics states that “for every action taken, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This statement is about physics but can surely apply to our national life.)  Reactions to actions and statements are happening and it is likely that more severe ones are to come.

The list of illustrations is endless. But one more.  Laura Ingalls Wilder who influenced generations of kids with her stories has had her name removed from a literary award that once bore her name.  This was done by the Association for Library Services to Children.  The ALSC did this because Wilder’s books were at odds with the “core values” of the ALSC.  And this is what is particularly fascinating about all of the above mentioned illustrations.  All justify their pronouncements and positions by using such terms as “core values”, “higher standards”, “integrity”, “moral grounds”, “certain standards”, “commitment to community”, “injustice/justice” or “upholding our morals.”  There is clearly some sort of moral guidelines that are being appealed to, though rarely is the source of those standards clearly set forth. Most likely, the “core values” really just reflect the current moral trends of the culture, which will be different (not necessarily better) a few years from now.  But these “core values” seem to moving America into a moral insanity while solving nothing.

Let’s bring in Jesus for just a moment and observe a claim He made about Himself in the last book of the Bible (Revelation 3:14). He said that He was “the Amen” and “the true witness”.  This is the only place in the Bible where “the Amen” is used of Jesus.  The title means that Jesus speaks that which is true and unchangeable, and that what He says will surely take place.  Jesus is also identified as “the true witness” (Greek word is martyr) which is a term that is used of Him in the New Testament (e.g. John 3:11, 32-33), and which communicates the trustworthiness of His witness to truth. He will never misrepresent the truth, either by exaggeration or by leaving out vital points.  He will never speak to be “politically/religiously correct”.  So these titles of Jesus communicate the critical point that when He speaks, He speaks absolute moral truth that never changes.

So while people and organizations can sound quite righteous by the words they use to establish their points and positions, the reality is that there is really just one absolute standard for mankind’s “core values”, “morals” and “standards.”  The ones given by the great Amen, the Faithful Witness, Jesus Christ. But when individuals, nations and other kinds of groups chose to set aside (or ignore) those standards as revealed in the Scriptures, there is precious little to rely on but the shifting sands of cultural whims. This was Jesus’ point when He concluded His “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt. 7:24-27). There He illustrated what we have been talking about.  He spoke of the foolish man who built his house on sand. But in contrast, the wise man built his house on the solid rock (in context, the teachings of Jesus). At first those two houses probably looked the same, and it seemed to make no difference what they were built on. Life went on. But, a storm came. When the storm hit, the house on the rock might have lost a shingle or two, but the other house collapsed. America is starting to choose the sand for its foundation…and that does not end well.  2 Chronicles 7:14 states: 

“(if) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.”

This verse is given to Israel who was in a covenant relationship with God. It was not given to America.  However, embedded in this verse are universal truths which can be applied by America and would result in great good for America.

What is needed in America are men and women (and pastors) who courageously declare by life and by word, what the Amen and True Witness has declared. This is not the time for timidity. Individuals, like you and me, might not see themselves as having any power to effect change, but the Almighty, Omnipotent One historically has delighted in using powerless nobodies to effect great change.