Lament For America
|Fanny Crosby, a writer of
Gospel hymns, had a line in
a hymn saying that later on we would recognize Christ
by the scars, the nail prints, in His hands. Ms. Crosby
used simple tunes that appealed to the people, but
her theology, put in simple and understandable words
was for the Ages.
Her hymns taught universal principles of scripture,
eternal truths and insights on Christian living.
Sacrifice and GRACE, above all. GRACE, the unmerited
favor and blessings of God that we receive from God.
Everything we do for God should be done through GRACE,
out of gratitude and thanks to God for GRACE.
Ms. Crosby wrote that we should recognize Jesus by the
scars left on His hands from His Suffering Love
shown on the cross. Also Jesus should be able to
recognize us, His followers, by the scars our suffering
love for others has left on us.
There is a book I highly recommend called, “The
Imitation of Christ.” I like the book but I
hate the name of it, because “imitation” calls
up to me “mindless repetition,” rather than thinking, not
original creativity which is grace in action.
Faith is grace in action. But grace is not mindless
repetition. It is creative originality in good will
and our reflecting of the light of God. It is our
job to reflect the light and love of God that we
have been given in a way that meets the needs of others and
more. When you've met a need, that is good,
but that is not enough.
Sometime you have to go beyond the call of duty, beyond just
filling a need. You need to leave the mark of
Jesus on it, so that people passing by will
recognize the mark of the followers of the
Christ. Don’t imitate. Create.
Now, if there is one thing many churches today
are not, it is creative, original and going beyond
the call of duty. The passivity of Christianity
today is truly shocking. It’s like some have never
heard anything but “Thou shalt not!” So they
don't. That's the end of their Christianity:
nothing positive, creative, constructive, sacrificial done.
The scripture says faith without works is not true
faith. It is “put on.” Works means sharing the grace
you have been given. If you feel grace like sympathy, for
example, you are called to do something about it, but leave
room for others. Grace is a joint effort. Christians
together acting. You don’t have to do it all, but you do
have to respond with a human gesture when you feel
true grace moving in your feelings. You can sort out
true from untrue feeling, wheat from chaff.
When you have the Christ feeling is when you want to reach out
to others. When you have the Christ feeling, you harm yourself
if you repress it. Let the grace in you peep out. Let the
light within you shine through the cracks of composure.
What do you do that is grace filled? Appreciate yourself.
I bet you are already sharing it.
You are living with a mean spouse.
You are working to provide for others.
You are doing your schoolwork for yourself, but also
to honour your parents. Now listen to this: You owe
honour to your parents if they are trying. Most are.
You owe honour to God who redeems.
Here is where some pernicious liberal is going to say that
I am making young people feel guilty by telling them what they owe. I hope so. What’s wrong with guilt, if you don’t overpower someone
with it? Guilt is a valid part of life. If you don’t meet an
obligation, you should feel guilt.
Why? Life is a Covenant, a social contract, a mutual
obligation society just as a family is a mutual admiration
society in which each has social obligations to the other.
While the ultimate contract or covenant we as Christians fall
under is a “Covenant Of Grace” with God. That means He has done
and is doing for us and we do for Him.
We do for God from love, gratitude for redemption and creation.
Yes, we have an obligation. He has created and redeemed. God
redeems us and helps us work out our health and our salvation.
We have a Covenant of Love, a Covenant of Grace, with Him as
we have a covenant with our family, community, nation, world.
We live and we love under an obligation to God.
You were not sent into this world just to do your own selfish
thing. You were sent into this world to consider others,
be part of covenant groups working together for larger, better
goals than just self, as well. You may of course and should
develop yourself within reason to some purpose. You should
enjoy yourself at times. You should be good for something.
But you are not sent by God into life to live only a life
of excessive and riotous individualism and gluttonous
amoral materialism. Here is an antique philosophy yet oddly in
vogue among trendy liberals and selfish materialists: you own
your life. No, you do not. Your life is mortgaged to God,
to others, to world survival. You are not here to live a life
of selfish individualism among excessive materialists. Those
are the thought processes that made the Prodigal Son prodigal.
If you reason, do you think a planet living on the
edge of devastation can afford predominant philosophies of
selfish individualism and gluttonous materialism? Can
you seriously consider those to be the serious answers
to the times in which we live? Well, let the earth blow
up! It is nothing but a chancy materialistic clump of
dirt like a beehive turning in space! Do you really
think when two thirds of the earth is constituted of
the desperately poor, the answer to the poor is a materialistic
outlook. We will eat cake and have a party while you starve.
I tell you Christianity has a far deeper, better
ethic of love; sharing with and consideration of others,
harmony, non-violence, a loving Spirit in the universe.
And the production of spiritual, peaceful, good people, rather than maintaining the chief purpose of life is materialism, and
the accumulation of industrial toys. Living a
life of excessive amoral individualism out of tune
with the physical needs of the body or the spiritual
needs of the world is not acceptable.
The Christian and other spiritual answers are caring and sharing.
The other answers are, (considering the responses the world needs)
irrelevant, picayune, worthy of moral contempt. Yes, work in
religion is needed to bring spiritual aspirations in line with spiritual
professions. But the intent is there in religions. If all you
seek is to be chief pig at the trough, stay with materialism.
You are not ready for Christ.
What does materialism offer but a chancy reveling in things,
a merry end and a quick grave? What will you say to the needs
of the world and teach your children? Caring Christianity with
social contracts of mutual obligation or excessive amoral
individualism, liberalism, which I suggest is a social cancer
where the individual cells are allowed to go free and wild,
be irresponsible and finally through excess to kill the
body that sponsored the cells that went too wild in the
physique that Jack built?
There is reasonable individualism and unreasonable
individualism. There is responsible freedom and
irresponsible freedom. I know, yes, my Lord,
what I have seen in this time, in this decadent
age. I have seen the social glue of our old fashioned
attitudes and virtues that held the American mosaic together
melt down while the people, bit by bit, piece by piece,
dropped out of real life for the “good life,” the shallow life
of mass advertising sold to rubes, the fantasy life of fun in
the sun that usually culminates in skin cancer.
Then I have seen the movement towards a non-suffering
Christianity that takes Christianity out of
reality and puts it in a china closet. This has gone
along with the collapse of morals, virtues, and patriotism
that held the American mosaic in place.
Fanny Crosby’s hymn affirms that an integral
part of Christianity is that Christ suffered
for us. We will know Him by His nail scarred hands. We as
Christians should be recognized by Him, by our scars, left from
suffering to redeem others, help others, comfort others.
The Christian imperative is that Christians be
willing to suffer for others. They do not seek
out suffering but when it comes, they meet it.
Many causes and many people can be helped easily
or easier and without suffering. But there are
people and causes you have to suffer for, or die
for, and that is just the way it is. We must be
willing to suffer for these as Jesus Christ
suffered for us.
When the time comes that we will not suffer for Christ
or for others we love, and even some we do not love,
Christianity no longer has the “nerve of failure” it needs
and it is gone. When you lose the will to suffer for it,
your family is gone, your community is gone, your
nation is gone, your world is gone.
Then as the Old Testament prophet took up the lamination
long ago over a rich city of the Middle East, Tyre, saying,
“Woe to thee, Tyre! Woe to thee, Chorazin!,” so I look around
and think of what I have seen and what I still see:
Our land is going mad as a balloon spewing air as it spews
out religious faith that used to help keep it stable and
balanced. The loss of moral pressure makes all volatile and wild.
The balloon spins circles doing loopy things. Faith and
morality, purpose and self-confidence are sucked out of the
country. The nation is blown about from this to that, worse
than ordinarily, as the balloon insecurely goes up and down,
then meets the ground to die. If the faith draining continues,
the nation dies, hits bottom, then a new religion balloons.
Faith drains, and you see how wildly ballooning nations spin
until at last they fade and die lacking the inner strength,
confidence, belief and morale needed to maintain the equilibrium
once supplied partly by faith. Religion serves a purpose: to
maintain the levitation, balance, transcendence, morality, a
nation needs. Religion benefits a country. Value vacuums are
made as religions spew out. Lacking values and morality business
suffers. Corruption is everywhere. As now, greed goes wild.
Have you not heard? Have you not seen? Everything in nature
is put there for a purpose. Do you really think the Creator
God of nature gave us religion for no reason? Are you so lacking
shrewdness that you have the idea religion was put in the nature
of mankind for nothing but the egotism of God?
While God certainly enjoys our companionship and
truly loves His children, there is good reason in nature for
a religious want. The use and need of religion in a nation’s
life is self-validating. Religion serves a purpose in the life
of the individual, the family, the community, the nation and
the world. It maintains a moral pressure, group morals and
transcendence. No less than George Washington in his Farewell
Address recognized religion as a necessary and helpful buttress
of the state. Loss of a religious basis oddly seems to cause many
social side effects like super inflation.
Every person, community, nation, even the world, has a choice
to use the natural instinct of nature that religion is: in a
life affirming way or to deny it. Denying natural impulses is
never a good idea. They may be sublimated but not denied.
Nations and parties that have steadfastly denied God like Russian
communism and the French Revolution have risen only to vanish.
It remains to be seen whether other forms of communism
will make the same mistake of denying God rather than
using the elemental force of nature that is belief
for themselves rather than against themselves. Yet
this is up to them. (The Chinese government has always
been more shrewd than the Russian government, so it
remains to be seen whether they accept religion or deny it.
If the Chinese are shrewd again, they will encourage religion
but one with a non-violent emphasis.)
It remains to be seen whether our bumptious leadership
of pernicious liberals will lead the gullible and trusting
younger members of society in their schooling to deny God,
suppress their religious natures and then let us all experience the
consequent social explosion.
The explosion will be because nature cannot be denied.
Nature may be sublimated but it will not be denied. Nature will
be gratified. The existence of God is natural to mankind.
It is assumed, instinctive and in our natures. Religion will
have a role or create a world that will let it. That information
is historically irrefragable, incontestable, indisputable. And
what is more, oddly enough, it is right.
I witness to a country decaying, going mad as a
balloon losing air as America loses faith, morality and
individual responsibility. I understand exactly the mood
of the prophet, Ezekiel, as he raised his jeremiads.
He was ordered to show the obvious next: lament for Tyre.
The prophet is long dead but he and I see eye to eye. I think you
see it too. Those called of grace to see will see. I have an
idea you have been given grace to see our situation. I note by the
nods of your heads that you see, you understand. Grace, by amazing
grace, that all of us realize. Then let us sorrow over the good
ways in America that have been lost, mourn for spiritually blind
America degenerating basely and even grossly right before our
When we see what surrounds us, we must realize
what must be next. Lament. Lament for a rich America that
has been blinded by money. Sorrow for Americans obsessed by
money. Wealth will not save America. She sets herself above
belief in God. She has said, like Tyre, “I am of perfect
beauty.” ( Ezekiel 27: 3) She sees herself only as
a democracy, a cornucopia, a model for the world.
America fools herself. She tries to pass off a corner of the picture
as a whole picture. Her media is eaten up with narcissism and
obscenity. It pollutes the world abroad and spews filth on her
very own children at home. Her deficiency in spiritual
insights is remarkable. Crime is in her streets. Her jails
are packed, stuffed and running over. Dope in some form
or other are the playthings of her adolescents and cocaine
the aspirin of many adults. Her government spends like
a drunken sailor. Her children's future is mortgaged
by climbing debts. She has not self-control in the
materialism so very many of her citizens glory in.
Do you think God does not know all this? Do you reason
natural law will put up with this? America may soon prove
but a hopeful mirage of history passing quickly in the
night. There is before you an American challenge. What is
to be the American response or the world response. Some
other countries are in the same circumstances on this
Do not later plead ignorance of the circumstances as
some Germans did on the existence of concentration camps
for Jews. I have clearly told you and you may investigate
it for yourself. I believe some may deny them, but the
truths rehearsed before you are mostly true. What has
been laid upon my heart by the Holy Spirit to say has
been said. I suggest you have heard the Word of the
Lord. Now you must deal with it. There is little sense
in going into “denial” or denying your state of denial.
Pray and use your intelligence on this. God is full of
grace and still with us. If you deal with these truths,
respond with virility and creatively to challenges, discover
self-discipline, modifying your self-indulgence,
I suggest the nation may continue greatly.
If you do not choose to face reality, I see the
time of the nation as up, not immediately but
lingering away to a bitter ending and nothingness.
Of course I may be wrong. I may be partially wrong.
Again I may be right. Or I may be partially right.
But I have made you aware. If you are called through
grace to see this, you will see it. If in this,
you are called according to His purpose, you will
wake up to it. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
( Matthew 11:15)
Hearing means grace to hear or emotionally ready to grasp it.
Who knows if you are in a state of grace or ready
to hear? I do not, but why should I receive a call from
God to say this if there were no hearers waiting and needing
to hear these truths verbalized? I don’t think so.
One of the ironies of democracy is that the majority
opinion supposedly elects the leaders. But in Christianity,
it is more likely that if a Christian is thinking like
everybody else, he or she isn’t thinking. He is
more likely following a multitude of conventional non-thinkers
to do questionable practices. “Thou shalt not follow
a multitude to do evil.” (Exodus 23: 2) Such is the present situation.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.