|You are too preoccupied with
material things. IT IS NOT
THAT MATERIAL THINGS ARE WRONG. It how you use and
respond to material things that is the concern. Over concern
with them arrests your spiritual growth.
A reasonable amount of your vital energy in life
may be concerned with material things, since you
have materialistic needs to be filled for you
and your families.
However if you consider, your needs are met. It is
your wants that are not met. Some of your wants are
so excessive as to be ludicrous. Most of you have
full closets now, and what you are looking for will
only force you to put in more closets to hold what
you have enough of already. Is a life adding more to
closets already full the life you want?
Some of you are striving to keep up with the Jones'
who have more than you. Why? You might try to keep down with
the Browns who have somewhat less. The happiest on the block
are those who have more than their neighbors, not those unhappy
souls eaten up with keeping up;
We never wish to fall into the trap of judging ourselves
by what we have rather than what we are. Being is more
important than having. If ”to be” is measured by what
you have, then you are like most in the world: mentally
ill, morally off, and having the wrong values. How could you
want to be one more of the people like this? Pray to
God not to be such a materialistic fool! The world
is boiling over with materialists like that now. It needs no more.
Are you then a shallow judger by the outside cover? Are you
an exterior person socially moving with other shallow exterior
ones? A spiritual person evaluates differently. I hope you
are trying to rise higher, to be a spiritual person. I think
the best way to achieve this is “plain living and high thinking.”
For this phraseology, I am indebted to the poet, Wordsworth.
Then you say, well, in this society, an abnormal obsession
with money is normal. Yes, I am afraid it is. That is where
we should repent. I ask you to consider “normal.” Surely,
you can rise to something higher than that. Normal is what
is conventional in the tribe. Different groups have different
made up pictures of normalcy. In primitive Aztec tribes,
human sacrifice was ‘‘ normal.’’
We are called upon first to be Christians. We can consider
being normal next. Now that is contrary to practically
every contemporary theological book found written in the
diluted doctrines of the contemporary churches. But
I tell you “Do not be led away by diverse and strange
teachings.” (Hebrews 13: 19 RSV)
How do we know these strange and diverse pseudo-
psychological and pseudo-sociological recommendations
are up to little good? Because they do not strengthen,
or inspire, or deepen or lead to “spiritual growth.”
They usually lead to “being normal in our sick
culture” as well as “normalization “ or vulgarization.
If you would ask me about my preaching, I would say
with the Apostle, I preach Christ Jesus as the Son of
God. God is above cultures and above any society.
God establishes The Normal above all the tribal
society normals just as God is King of Kings and
Lord of Lords.
The society we are in is on certain areas soon to
be named, sick, sinful and sorry. Ours is a decadent
country in some respects. It is obsessed with
materialism, obsessed with sensuality and sex,
and obsessed with anti-religious feeling.
Of course the country is obsessed with anti-religious
feeling. Do you know a sinner feeling guilty is
going to hate, despise and mock the one
who points out or just silently stand for the
How do I know these people feel guilty on sexual
excess and sensual obsession, on being glutted on
materialism, on the existence of God and self-indulgence.
How do we know they have a conscience? Because
we know they are made in the image of God. They
have inside themselves, denied or not, a conscience.
In the night they know they’re wrong. What they
do, they may do, but they know they are wrong.
We are not discussing just believers, but we are
discussing the nature of mankind. Whether they are
believers in a religious revelation or not, there
is in mankind’s nature universally existent, (through
common grace reaching all, so say I) a Mind-Sense, an “At Large
Conscience Instinct” that is instinctive to all mankind.
This Mind-Sense universal to all mankind, reacts when
“largeness of mind is denied by smallness of mind,” when
golden Moderation is denied by ugly excessive behavior,
when justifiable materialism is transformed and uglified
into obsessive materialism.
There is a lifting of the Spirit inside mankind that was
here before Jesus Christ. This “lifting of man’s spirit”
sees objectively enough to be repulsed by the excessive.
There is instinctive to mankind a shame for Vulgarity
Gone or Going Beyond acceptable limits. There was
WRITTEN on the entrance of the Temple of Apollo,
at Delphi, Greece: NOTHING TO EXCESS.
I submit the case to the instinctive universal
conscience of mankind. The sexual obsession and
vulgarity go over the line drawn by universal
decency. The obsession with self-indulgence,
sensuality, and personal immoral selfishness is
not socially acceptable to the world. The tendency to
define freedom as amoral individual and excessive personal right
lacking sufficient consideration of others, has gotten out
Are these things just bad? No, they are cancers that
can spread all over the world and some are already spreading.
They can be moral plagues called down upon the world.
You must catch the bigger picture. I follow the Lord
Jesus. I will die in the Lord Jesus as you will. But
this is not a petty provincial fight of a Christian
country limited to one region of the world.
What America does affects everybody. This is unfortunate,
considering some of the examples in demonstrating life-
styles America has at times shown the world to its horror.
But that is the way it is.
Our case to protect humanity lives before the bar
of mankind’s universal instinctive conscience. That
is our jury. At stake is the kind of morality or
spirit of decency and fair behavior that will
affect the world greatly, because whatever America
does now affects the world. HISTORY will judge us negatively.
Should I preach that America is a world scandal? Should
I call attention to her economic extravagances and the
materialism of her citizens, the fact her amoral
individualized excesses are becoming laws, the “good
old number one attitude of many of her laborers,
her colossal self-indulgence, her sexual vulgarity?
Why not? Everybody knows it!
The fact is American Decadence is recognized everywhere
in the world as commonplace information everyone already
knows. Some are disgusted. Some hate us outright.
Today in America every kind of behavior is recognized
as good. Everything is considered beautiful in its
own ways except the beauty of holiness. For this
statement loosely translated I am indebted to
the sculptor, Michelangelo, who did the “David”
whose replica is outside in a square in Florence
while the original is safely inside.
The Renaissance in Italy was a grand period of
history. However, Michelangelo, saw the worm that
was eating on the apple: the corruption and the
spiritual near bankruptcy of the peruid,
The Renaissance corruption led to Martin Luther.
Martin Luther was the great reformer a black
Baptist minister in Georgia was named for. He named his
son, Martin Luther King, Jr. If ever a child was
aptly named, that was it: Great Social Reformer
for Great Gospel Reformer. I daresay the one led
to the other, but it took a long time to filter down.
Some historians say America has been undergoing a
Renaissance. If it is one, it has the same problem
Michelangelo saw in his time, in his Renaissance.
When Patrick Henry called for an American Revolution
in his famous oration on liberty or death, Henry
saw if he continued the speech, he would have to
spell out things at that time better left unsaid.
I emulate him in this. I pray daily for a non-violent
revolution in America, and the non-violent coming of a
spiritual revolution as well as moral regeneration in
this nation and the world. I hope daily you will
pray for these goals with me. As for the examples I
have given, I hope there will be some profit from
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.