Late last night, I was overcome with grief. The tears were not expected.
It is impossible to digest properly all that happened yesterday. As I write in my forthcoming book Stuck in the Present, we need the longer view of history for that, so I am heeding my own counsel.
Over the years, I have heard warnings to not take the American experiment in democracy for granted. It is sturdy in one sense, but still fragile. I remember hearing that each generation of Americans must commit to it. I thought it was good to issue such a warning but was never too worried. No longer.
Have things been this bad before in America? An argument can certainly be made for that and the antebellum period is the one historians typically mention.
Are our cluster of present problems unique to the more modern period of American history? Again, I think the 1960s offers another example of serious strife and deep division.
My deepest sadness, however, is not over our country’s present chaos and strife.
My deepest sadness is over the state of the Christian faith in America.
For many decades I have witnessed Christians who are apathetic about knowing God’s Word, loving one’s enemies, an unwillingness to suffer for Christ in the most modest of ways, prayerlessness, and much more.
Most Christians are poorly prepared for times of crisis. We love the church programs that meet our insatiable desires. We adore our celebrity pastors. We are biblically and historically illiterate, but more than willing to offer our superficial opinions on the most vexing issues of the day.
This sad state of affairs is due to a lack of making long-term discipleship and serious grounding in the Christian faith our priorities. These simply do not take place in many churches (or parachurches for that matter). We have sown the wind and are reaping the whirlwind. We should not be surprised where we find ourselves.
Things are not going to be any better by avoiding these realities. Things also might not be any better if we face these realities but at least we will have been faithful.
I pray for God’s mercy, but I do not find myself too sanguine. My lack of “optimism” is not because the culture is so bad. Rather, it is because many of us Americans claiming the name of Christ have become dull of hearing.
God’s Word makes it clear that Christians can lose their influence (Mt. 5:13; Rev. 2:4,5). We are kidding ourselves if we think this is not happening right now.
All of us who claim the name of Christ need to ponder and consider Peter’s dire warning:
Indeed, none of you should suffer as a murderer or thief or wrongdoer, or even as a meddler. But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?… (I Peter 4:15-17)
I added this in the reply link, but will also add it here:
Again, to underscore the biggest point of the post: Yes, shock over the events of yesterday, but I am much more worried about the state of Christianity in America. And my concerns go way back before Trump or any other politician.
We must look at ourselves!