I am a news junky, something I am not proud of. As Biblical Christians, we are called to be citizens of Heaven not of this earth (Phil 3:20). We are told to, “set our minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:2). But, I keep watching (the news), as our country falls farther and farther from its biblical underpinnings.
This trend in personal pleasure over group accountability and moral conformity is not new. All the way back in 1967, there was a book written by Anthony Harris titled “I’m OK, You’re OK.” It was on the NY Times Best Sellers list for almost two years and was an early step toward the acceptance of people for who they are, as long as their behavior is not hurting anyone else. This seemingly benign and reasonable view of humanity would conceivably fit well into Luke 10:27 or Matt. 22:37, loving your neighbor as yourself. However, over the succeeding years, the fallout from this new-found independence has been an ever-increasing attitude of “I can do anything I want as long as I am not hurting others in the process.” We now find ourselves at the extreme end of that rope where drugs (opioids and marijuana), the loss of the traditional family values and traditions, church attendance, the deterioration of our public schools, distrust of the news media, technological isolation (snapchat vs verbal conversations), government impotence, removal of prayer and Scripture from our institutions, and political polarization, to name a few, are rampant. We, as a nation of individuals, have become increasingly self-absorbed and detached from each other as we focus on our pet interests and projects, rather than group fellowship and activities. Even our workplaces have become more remote as local management has been replaced by off-site bosses and work-from-home career options.
These cultural shifts have impacted faith-based institutions in profound ways. A recent survey found 80% of SBC churches have either plateaued or are declining. Our Pastor Jarrod Scott mentioned from the pulpit in October that the definition of an active Baptist church member 15 years ago was being at church twice a week. Now “active” is defined as being in the Sanctuary twice a month. According to Barna, only four out of every 100 teens holds a Biblical Christian worldview.
There are at least three ironies in all this, in my viewpoint:
- Those who were the strongest proponents of individual freedoms (of speech and actions from the world of “I’m OK, You’re OK”) are now the most vocal in stifling opinions which differ from theirs. This, while groups like the Moral Majority of the 80’s and 90’s have all but disbanded and been silenced out of fear of being misinterpreted.
- In the midst of our lukewarm acceptance of being a post-Christian nation, Biblical Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world. Similarly, as the early church was forming in the first century, it became clear that the genesis of our faith, through the Jewish race in Jerusalem and its surroundings, was rapidly replaced by a much broader geographic of gentiles, hungry for the truth (Acts 22:20-22).
- Through all this turmoil and bluster, two Supreme Court justices have been installed which will shift the court toward increased religious freedoms and protections for a generation. Further, and less obvious, there have already been another 82 lifetime appointments of District and Appellate justices installed across this nation in the last two years who hold similar views on preserving the constitution as it was originally written, rather than re-interpreting it based on conditional ethics and deteriorating societal norms.
God remains at work, through the hands and voices of His people. We, who have the Holy Spirit within our hearts, need to be in prayer for our nation, our faith, and our local body, that God will give us the courage and conviction to stand our ground (Eph. 6:13) as the prejudice and persecution becomes more intense.