Following the horrific mass murders in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, politicians and pundits are asking the same questions, promoting familiar explanations, and making urgent demands that we’ve all heard before.
“One question no one is asking,” raised columnist Cal Thomas is “Why is evil rampant in our country?”
Thomas further explained, “I don’t mean obvious evil like the all too frequent mass murders. There are other evils, which seem to have come from the ‘pit’ and are roaming among us uncontrolled.”
“We seem to tolerate everything these days and oppose controlling what once was called evil behavior,” he observed. “Bad behavior is now considered good and good behavior is thought to be bad. Those who practice good behavior are often labeled with words that end in “-phobe.” Societal norms have been undermined. Normal is what individuals think is true for them.”
Thomas’ conclusion, in the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, is that “Men have forgotten God.”
I’m reminded of Moses’ warning to the children of Israel as they stood on the brink of the promised land. “Beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Deut 6:11). He knew the danger of them inheriting a land that they didn’t work for, enjoying prosperity, but forgetting it was God who blessed them and provided their material abundance.
In the United States, our money is inscribed, “In God We Trust.” Do we really? Our pledge of allegiance contains the words “One Nation Under God?” Are we? Our actions and attitudes as a nation suggest a painfully negative answer.
During the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln, when our nation was torn apart by a Civil War, on March 30, 1863, he issued a Proclamation for a Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer. His words ought to serve as a wake-up call for us today.
“And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People?”
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
I don’t labor under any illusion that this little blog will be read by politicians who take it to heart. Nor, do I naively think that these warnings will have some dramatic impact on our culture.
However, maybe they will remind all of us who claim allegiance to Christ of who we are. Of what we are to be. Or why we’re here on earth. And of how our lives ought to be transformed by the Word, not conformed to the world around us.
In fact, before we become self-righteous in our finger-pointing of a world that has forgotten God, maybe it’s good to ask, “Have I forgotten God?”
In my quest for success, have I forgotten God?
In my pursuit of pleasure, have I forgotten God?
In my fervor for financial freedom, have I forgotten God?
In my accumulation of material possessions, have I forgotten God?
Does my treatment of other people signal that I have forgotten God?
Does the atmosphere and environment in my home indicate that I have forgotten God?
Even though I’m faithful in church attendance, is it possible that I’ve allowed traditions to replace Truth and have forgotten God?
And in my zeal to promote my political agenda and espouse my patriotic loyalty, could I have misplaced my spiritual priorities and forgotten God?
I can’t control what happens in the White House. The courthouse. Or the houses of Congress. But I can begin in my house. My life. My heart.
May I “set my hope in God, and forget not the works of God. But keep His commandments” (Ps 78:7).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman