“To thine own self, be true.” – William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Advice does not get much more basic or helpful than Polonius’s words to his son, Laertes. If Laertes cannot be true to himself, how can he be true to anyone else? If America cannot be true to herself…
It is tough to argue that this country is well. Peer behind the thousand-watt smiles of the lapdog media, braying their mantra about how the world has been improving since November 2008. Tune out the drone of stump speeches, still being made two months after the election has ended. Peel back the articles, op-eds, blog posts, transcripts, and dissertations about how this country is getting better, thanks to a double helping of government. What you will rapidly discover is that things are not better, things are markedly worse. As a nation, we are not convalescing, we are bleeding out.
So the real question is why? What is our affliction and how is it treated? Everyone from the talking heads on TV to the crazy guy in the subway compartment, think they know what is afflicting this country. You name it, someone is blaming it. Global warming, institutional racism, greed, Big Labor, chauvinism, capitalism, aliens, not enough progressivism, too much progressivism, video games, and on and on and on, ad nauseum.
While America may indeed be suffering from some of these, they are symptoms not illnesses. The returning strength of American progressivism is a problem, but it’s not the root of the problem. It is a symptom which demonstrates a deeper and more pervasive illness. A bloody nose is not an illness. The brain tumor which caused the bloody nose is the true malady.
Our national illness is a frayed and desiccated morality, specifically the way we have attempted to enjoy the fruits of a society based on the Judeo-Christian ethic while spitting in the eye of the Judeo-Christian God. In our ala-carte society, we will pick and choose which aspects of reality we deign to accept and which we omit entirely. We refuse to accept the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our schools, political offices, history books, college campuses, military bases, hospitals, and graduation ceremonies, but when tragedy strikes we blame Him for not interceding to prevent it. We repudiate the concept of an eternal, absolute morality, rooted in the person of God, but when someone steals our iPhone we feel that’s “like just SO wrong”. We will hyperventilate while feverishly dialing the ACLU when someone “violates our rights”, failing to realize that a world without the God of the Bible rapidly degenerates into a Might-Makes-Right existence, where the only ones with rights are the ones who can wrest them from the bloody hands of a feverish mob. We want to take Marie Antionette’s cake and eat her, too.
Sadly, much of the blame lies on the American Church itself. As churches stray further and further from the Gospel, they lose sight of the diagnosis and treatment plan laid out in the pages of Scripture. They forget that the Great Physician has spoken about the only cure available for the universal malady of mankind.
Case in point, last Sunday a church on the north side of Chicago correctly identified urban poverty as a social illness, but they failed to take the next step in the treatment plan. Reverend Jackson Crum of the Park Community Church in Chicago had his assistants hand out envelopes to his congregation, filled with bills of money. Some had a few dollars, some had over a hundred. He encouraged his congregation to go into some of the roughest neighborhoods in the city and hand them out.
“He told the members of Park Community Church that a great city with great struggles needs hope. Sometimes, Crum said, it comes in the form of cash . . . ‘Isn’t that why we’re here as a church?’ Crum said.”
Reverend, that may be why you are together as a church, but that is not why the Lord Jesus came to earth to give His life. He came so that we might hear and share His Gospel message, the real source of hope. Too many churches have gone astray in this manner. They have lost their Scriptural anchor and fallen prey to worldly misdiagnosis of the ills of man. The ailment is not that the man sleeping on the bench at the bus stop is poor. Give him $100,000 today and he’ll be the same man in better clothes tomorrow. The ailment is that he is separated from walking with His Savior, prevented from drinking in the peace which only He can offer, and so he settles for a drink of Olde English instead.
The maladies of this nation will never be solved by free-market capitalism alone. Conservatism, devoid of a biblical foundation, will not heal this country. It will only patch the wound and buy some time. Conservatism is damn good medicine, but it is not a cure. Only a conscious realignment of our national morality to the doctrines of the Bible will save the ship.
There is no naïveté in this diagnosis. The ribald depravity of a growing portion of this country is readily apparent to all, but that does not mitigate our responsibility to administer the prescription we have been given. And let’s face it, He has done more with less. It ain’t over, folks. His strength is perfected in our weakness. Instead of stuffing envelopes of cash in the hands of the suffering, let’s offer them His drink of living water, that they may never thirst again.