Grace and peace to you this July as we rejoice in a glorious summer.
Last week we celebrated the 4th of July, how we as a collection of people living in different states and backgrounds came together and forged a nation. The more I watch the news, the more concerned I am for our country. Never have I seen such vicious, vitriolic hatred expressed toward people of a different point of view then that which exists now. There have always been small groups of fanatics on both sides of the political spectrum or social issues opposing one another. Likewise, there have always been those who close their minds to alternative ideas. I had a father who always voted republican and a father-in-law who always voted democratic, effectively cancelling each other out, but they didn’t hate each other. They disagreed and even argued, but they didn’t despise the air the other breathed like now.
While it is not my place to judge (and I am not starting now), I truly question in my heart the sincerity of faith of anyone who in one breath proclaims to love the Lord and in the next refers to someone with an opposing point of view as a terrorist, bigot, racist, homophobic extremist Nazi. The violent efforts of some to silence the voice of others at any price scares me. Scripture makes it clear that where one does not love neighbor, one does not love God. Jesus’ words, not mine, but we had better start taking them to heart.
As a student of history, I can’t help but remember when similar forces of anarchy have arisen in the past to crush all opposing opinion. Anarchists demand that all must believe in the one true standard [theirs] or be utterly destroyed. Such thinking has resulted in the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the rise of Mayo in China and more. The voice of reason cannot be tolerated, nor can it even be heard when drown out by shouts of hateful condemnation. Sadly, we seem to be journeying down that fatal path.
Is this what happens to a nation, a people, a culture and a society that has effectively abandoned God? One cannot deny that direction seems more and more the choice being taken for our country and our world. Even the church is not innocent of contributing to a questionable standard of a “soft-serve deity”, when it condones activities that run contrary to the Word of God in Scripture. When we discard the Old Testament as a mere collection of stories for Sunday school children, we dismiss the very foundation for the coming of Christ into the world. When we abandon Christian morals and ethics for the sake of self satisfaction and gratification, we embrace the beast. When we forget the reality of sin and fail to take into account its consequences upon our lives and the lives of others, we have turned our backs on God’s love and mercy. That the world is doing this is understandable and grievous. That the church is contributing to this condition is unconscionable.
I encourage you to pause a moment and pray that we remember what this nation stands for and represents and commit ourselves to that truth. No, as a nation and a people we are not perfect. Far from it. After all, we are by nature sinful and unclean. Yet, despite our shortcomings, we established a nation that is founded on liberty, justice and freedom for all UNDER GOD. We still have a ways to go, for not everyone experiences those God given rights to the same degree and should. However, what’s happening in our country today is causing us to lose some of the ground we’ve gained in making those principles a reality for all. It’s got to stop before it’s too late. May God help us turn ourselves around from falling off the precipice of disaster turning our nation, a God given nation, into an historical footnote.
And those are my thoughts. God bless.
Pastor Lee R. Harder