Next month the USA will be celebrating its 246th birthday. Celebrate, however, is not a word right now that’s on our lips or in our hearts.
Since May 14th there have been three mass shootings that have made the news. The attack at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, NY that left 10 dead. The horrific attack on an elementary school in Uvalde, TX that took the lives of 19 little children and two teachers. Then yesterday an attack at a medical center that left 4 dead and many injured.
Furthermore, there is the obvious moral decline in America today that seems to be increasing at an alarming rate in the past two decades. There is an increase in various addictions, violent crime in our major cities, riots, suicide, and sexual and gender confusion.
When we add to all of this our current state of political polarization, spiking fuel costs, inflation that affects everything we buy, and a general feeling that all the polls reflect that America is on the wrong track, celebration may not be on our minds.
These issues remind me of a couple of quotes I recently read. The late Chuck Colson once opined “The problem is not gun control, poverty, talk-show hosts, or race. The problem is the breakdown of moral values in American life, and our culture simply cannot respond.”
The historian Arnold Toynbee put it succinctly and bluntly, “Great civilizations are not murdered, they commit suicide.” Truly, it feels like we are on the road to our own self-destruction.
This leaves the Christian to wonder, what can we do when civilization collapses? Or as the Psalmist asked 3,000 years ago, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3).
Let me suggest four things.
#1 Fervently pray.
Our recent national distress has left some to mock the practice of prayer. Yet, prayer is always appropriate.
“Pray without ceasing,” Paul penned (1 Thess. 5:17). James advised, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray (Jas. 5:13). And Jesus encouraged his followers that “they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Lk. 18:1).
Let’s pray for peace. For hurting hearts. For grieving fathers and mothers. For our leaders. For the sick and suffering. For our nation, whose soul is wounded.
Let’s pray for people we know. For our families. For our friends. For our brethren. For our own spiritual strength.
Let’s pray for faith to dispel fear. For hope to dissipate doubt. And for love to evict hate.
#2 Speak the Truth in love.
Preachers, pastors, parents, and all Christians cannot remain silent about the important issues of our day. However, we need to come to grips with two things. One, what the important issues are, and two, how to respond.
Be advised the important issues are spiritual, moral, and ethical. They are not every little personal opinion we cherish. And believe it or not, they are neither political nor economic. The issues are of eternal significance that impacts the soul.
However, even if we may not see all issues alike, let’s speak, write, and post on social media with kindness, courtesy, and love. Remember, the Bible says, “love is not rude…nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance (1 Cor. 13:4-6).
#3 Don’t compromise or withdraw from culture.
There’s a temptation for us to imitate those around us. So, there are many Scriptural warnings about remaining pure in a polluted world. “Be not conformed to this world,” Paul implores. I like the J. B. Phillips rendering, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its own mold.”
However, another incorrect response is to isolate ourselves from culture. To withdraw. Or to ignore the world. That’s neither practical or what the Lord desires.
Instead, we are called to influence the world. We are to be “the light of the world,” and “the salt of the earth.” We can make a positive impact in our community, in the workplace, in our various associations, and in all our relationships by being like Christ in our attitudes and actions.
#4 Do good.
The world would be a better place if we all decided just to “do good.” 34 times the Bible issues this two-word exhortation. The Psalmist penned “Depart from evil and do good” (Ps 34:14). Jesus said that even when people are spiteful, hate us and hurt us, we should “do good” to them (Matt. 5:44). And Paul exhorted, “As have opportunity, let us do good to all people…” (Gal. 6:10).
Instead of bemoaning, “What’s the world coming to?” rather let’s boldly proclaim, “Look, what’s coming to the world.”
Who knows? We might feel like celebrating after all.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman