By Larry Page, Executive Director • Ark. Faith and Ethics Council
Ours is a nation in crisis, and it is serious. I happen to believe it is approaching a critical stage, if it is not there already. In any event, none of us can afford to just ignore it and think things will get better organically on their own.
You don’t need me to describe the times over the last few years in detail. If you routinely receive facts from any objective news sources, you have seen the violence, rioting, looting, anarchy, strained race relations, attacks on the police, defiance of law and order, churches and faith groups being deprived of their religious liberties and the fractures to our culture caused by identity politics and group think foisted on a gullible public by unscrupulous leaders, a dishonest media, and greedy hustlers all of whom harbor agendas and aggressively propagate them.
In trying to make some sense of our existence today, we are forced to formulate some suppositions and draw various inferences. To maintain some sanity, we also must come face-to-face with some hard truths.
To reflect on the dilemmas we face is to prompt the sentiment “Well, we have been here before” or something equivalent. However, I doubt if things in America have ever been as dire as they are now; perhaps so, but I think not.
I am not minimizing the turbulence and chaos the nation endured during a bloody civil war, a debilitating great depression, two cataclysmic world wars, unwise and costly entanglements in Korean and Vietnamese civil wars, the hostility and violence that accompanied the civil rights movement. There was also the rebellious 1960s that largely reordered our morals, values and principles and ushered in the sexual revolution, put us on a trajectory toward secularism and created a cultural bent that lent itself to narcissism and nihilism.
Despite the upheaval caused by those episodes, the nation recovered, at least to an extent that permitted a return to some semblance of civility, common purpose and community. It is not certain that the aftermath of our current predicaments will get us back to that level again. I pray so and hope so, but we can’t take anything for granted. It may be that the national fabric is torn so badly and worn so thin that there’s no going back unless we take drastic and dramatic action.
So much for suppositions and inferences, now it is on to the hard truths. And they are hard. So hard that some don’t want to hear them, accept them or follow them. It doesn’t matter; the truth is the truth and we better be about meeting it head on and dealing with it.
We are never past the point of no return as long as the Holy Spirit is here. He is here because believers are still here. I am convinced that the power He makes available is as strong as it was on the day of Pentecost.
But here’s the question. What do we do with that power? Well, at the risk of some thinking I am being trite and overly simplistic, I will repeat what is very well known to most believers. It is not hyperbole to say this truth is both fundamental and foundational.
That truth is that God provided the game plan for our survival. It is found in II Chronicles 7:14. I’m sure most reading this don’t need it recited, but a few might, so here it is: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
The hard truth is that it will be God’s people getting right with Him, seeking forgiveness, living righteous lives, being selfless servants and committed to being prayer warriors that will salvage this culture if it is to be saved. For more guidance here, reference Micah 6:8, I Peter 2:11-12, and James 1:27. I am sure you could add your own favorite verses to this list, but these are some of mine.
If this nation is to be pulled back from the brink of the abyss, it will be the church being real “salt” and “light” that invokes God’s forgiveness, healing and restoration that will make it happen — nothing more and nothing less.
Be certain of this. It won’t be any political party, office holder, government bureaucracy, armed insurgents, a foreign power, human institution or organization, economic system, humanism or any other conjured ideology or philosophy that brings deliverance. God will do it through us believers. He could easily do it without us, but He has chosen us to be His change agents to accomplish His will.
I suggest we get serious about being the church. The stakes are way too high for us to do anything else. Perhaps it would serve us well to recall Mordecai’s profound statement to Esther (Esther 4:14): “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Don’t you think this is our time? I do. As is said, “If not us, who? And if not now, when?”