The Vision

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Someone said to me that America needed revival. I said
that was an understatement. The minority need a revival.
The majority need awakening to the human need for, a God
and the spiritual state that may arise from belief in a divine
Being. We should not be talking just revival. Of course that
is needed, but we need more than revival. We need conversion.

On the need for God, America is in a state of what
is called “denial.” This is for various reasons.
But America is like a cancer patient who refuses to be
treated because he won’t admit he’s got it. Meanwhile
the cancer is eating him up.

A cancer of non-belief is eating America up. First
people are not enjoying the better quality of life they
might have if they believed in a loving God. They
miss so much in the quality of their lives by not
having an awareness of God which can also lead to
a satisfying personal relationship with God.
They miss so much joy and happiness by denial of God.

Of course religion can sometimes be misinterpreted
by a fringe lunatic group. But that is the case with
everything: politics, economics, the neighborhood.
There are people who (for whatever reason) are so
disturbed, they are incapable of sane living. But
my experience has been the people who go mad or
"nuts" on religion were that way before they found it.

In the Bible, for example, there is quite a variety, but sick
opportunities are sought in reading it by sick
opportunists. Much of anything can be proved by
scripture, and I find that often to be the case.

The Bible is supposed to be read under the
influence of the Holy Spirit. But if read under
the influence of a sick spirit, a money greedy
spirit, a vengeful, violent spirit, whatever is wanted
will also be found. The devil can quote scripture. This is sad
but people do have some amount of free will,
which as the Bible points out, can be used to
frustrate more healthful spiritual attitudes.

We also must realize, religion has to begin
with what is, not what ought to be, and the
outraged who constantly criticize religion
for not being perfect, simply don’t realize
the choice is usually between the beginning state
of awful and better. Religion has made situations
that were awful into better.

But things are not perfect, not to be made perfect, human nature
being what it is. The choices of life are usually between
awful, bad and better. Faith can help make the awful into merely
bad, and the bad into better, but it is not going to make anything
perfect. It can only be fair and ask people to do better. Heaven
is reserved for perfect. And, I might comment, what a boring
and pompous world it would be, if everyone were going around
being perfect. The dead can afford to be perfect.

Unfortunately, my “bete noire” is people who cannot
be satisfied with good, better and pleasant. My view
is: stop while ahead and have a Thanksgiving. But
we are the heirs of a couple who found the Garden of
Eden not good enough and therefore ruined what they
had, because they could not appreciate what they had.
The Garden of Eden is a true story rehearsed again
every day. Gadgets change, fashions change, the
basics in people rarely change. Nor does Jesus
Christ change.

So here we are in America the once more beautiful
but nevertheless, still pleasant in many places,
where good people once were, though fewer still are.
The quality of life is rapidly thinning. Honesty
and morality are going down. Materialism is almost
totally dominant. Values vacuums are increasing:
that is when good values go down, money rushes
in to be chief value. Over half the marriages
end by divorce. The family of two biological
parents is long since a lost vision. Any ten year
old can supplement his life by turning on television
for quick high on filth, shallowness and bad
values. Dope in some form or variety is everywhere.

What can the people hope for? Maybe the government will
pass another one of those vastly expensive programs for tax
payers that have tons of forms and set up a great new bureaucracy
that will again do nothing and be laughed at universally.
When this is the hope, there is really no hope. That is
the situation before us. As I said, the American people are
in “denial” not only about the need for religion but
nearly everything else.

In the meantime the government is doing everything it
can to persecute or is it “prosecute” the spiritual people
in the land of whatever faith. Now nearly anyone with
judgment can tell you one spiritual person is worth more
than any number of materialists!

Why? Oh, get serious! A materialist has no accounting
to anybody anytime. He thinks when he’s dead, it’s over.
He arrived on earth by luck. When his luck is out,
good-bye. He has nothing to live his life by.

The materialistic person is not commanded by any God,
while all major faiths have a theme of Suffering
Love, to care about someone else, share with someone
else, love something else besides money. His egotism
is not under the ethical restraint all spiritual persons
are taught by the four major religions. Now that is not
to say all the peoples taught by the major faiths follow
the faith, but, nevertheless, if they do not, they are
“faith haunted “ by what they know to be right but find
specious reasons to reject.

When the young and not-then President Kennedy was
lost in the Pacific area in World War II among island inhabited
by savages, and was found and spirited out of harm’s way by
natives converted by Seventh Day Adventist missionaries singing
“Gospel Songs,” do you think he was then so shallow as not
to appreciate “spiritual persons”?

What do you think is the forceful depth of motivation
among non-spiritual persons? They discuss the good. Is
discussion by the unconcerned an adequate motivation?
I had to counsel with a thirteen year old couple. She was
pregnant. Both had experience with dope. They attended our
government propaganda for the public schools.

I asked the boy privately, “Had anyone told you not to
do this so young?” He said, “Yeah, we had a discussion
class at high school?” I said, “Did you pay attention
to it?” He laughed and said, “Of course not! Not even
jerks do that.” (I often wonder if atheists, agnostics and
liberals really think we are going to sustain a moral system
on the basis of the propaganda of discussion groups with no
spiritual traditions to back them up? Nothing but liberal
mumbo-jumbo followed by political dancing around).

Yet it is obvious to me that spiritual people are better
for themselves, others, the community and the world than
non-spiritual people. This of course carries the qualification
they do not belong to a violence-advocating lunatic off-brand
fringe and maintain sickly life-negating ideas that are not
of the major faiths preaching themes and variations on
“Suffering Love.”

Even if I did not believe in God, which I do, I would encourage
persons in all lands to believe in God, sailing on one of the
four streams that make the river. That is, perhaps, not a
fair comparison to be made since I do so strongly believe in
God. I am fortunate through grace to say: “I know that my redeemer
liveth.” I have had experience of Him, and certainly this did
not make me perfect, far from it, nor did it make me to know
it all, so I advise and suggest. But it gave me a heightened
perspective that I otherwise would have lacked.

My experience validated belief, but it also let me
know that our minds are small, very small, and if
we are to be saved or help each other, it is through love, not
just knowledge, creedal or scientific, given to finite minds.
The love of God is infinite.

How do we try to be supportive of the fewer good
people in America who believe, while converting some,
certainly not all, of the rest? God has ever worked
through grace touching first a people chosen unto
Him to hear, see, feel and otherwise to know. These
have been His creative minority to enlighten
masses of others and through creativity in grace arrange
and make things to show forth the glory of God.

First I may advise you that this is not going to be
done by your local pastor. For him charity begins at
home. He has a congregation like a father has a family.
His first work is among the congregation. Charity
in that nature begins at home. Remember the
Pauline admonitions of a man who would not
take care of his own household first.

I have been a pastor. My father was a pastor before
me. It is a constant and laborious work with little
money and much work and, no matter what, some
dissatisfied people. I think the malcontents are
largely unhappy they aren’t the pastor. They want
him or her to do as the unhappy ones think. They
delight in telling the pastor how he should walk
in their shoes. But you never know how a shoe pinches
until you try it on. So how could they suggest to the
pastor what he should do when they did not know how his
walk felt?

The pastor is also tied to the expectations of the
congregations. Most congregations are myopic. They
are interested in themselves first. They want more
members, large budgets and bigger, finer buildings.
Also when ministers are married, as in the Protestant
churches, their families are hostages held by fortune.
No one does this openly, as this would be crude, but
the ways of the congregation can be subtle.

For this reason it is best other needs than the congregation’s
are best not tied to the congregation. Those other
needs will get short shrift. Congregations are like
babies who cry for their mother. The spiritual babies
want attention right then and all of it. The childishness
of congregations can be beyond belief. The pastors
need no more pressure. They have their hands full with the
many in the congregations who are spiritually immature.
In these days of decadence and troubles, that means a
large number.

This is my view. It is not the definitive answer or
the final answer. Anyone who would like to improve upon
it may do so with my blessing. But in this time of
troubles we need prayerful, intelligent, creative thinking
and above thinking, doing. Our attitude must be like
Luther’s. I suggest in this and in other things,
Live Boldly. Grace is abounding.

First I suggest there is needed a group of small
lay ministers. The Apostle Paul paid for his ministry
by tent making wherever he went. So that means a volunteer
or self-anointed volunteer must be able to support himself
or herself.

A gap as I see it, is between the church and the
home. The homes are often broken. They contain often
single parents. The children are hurting from divorce
or the absence of a parent. The adults are hurting from
being alone without much of a support group in a very hostile
society that expects people to make it on their own.
This is of course ridiculous. No person is an island.
But some do seem to me to be peninsulas.

However, the need is not just single parent houses that are
not homes, where hurting is. There are many older people
out there in isolation. There are all sorts of people
with all sort of different hurts. Do not think this is
a matter of poverty. Do not be so naive. One of the worst
dysfunctional families in England is the Royal family.
Hurting is in all classes and neighborhoods.

We need links between the homes and the churches. The
churches are too big, try as they may, to provide spiritual care
and warmth. The churches are large and impersonal, lacking
warmth and intimacy, the support of love, that people need to
survive or to grow. Most assume the problem is money, yes,
possibly but to a much smaller degree than people think. The
really real deficiency is caring and concerned support that
comes from others who care and will help. You used to go from
home to church but not today. The “trust link” is missing.

I suggest volunteer lay tent-maker ministers whether to their
own or someone else’s neighborhood, whether living there
or going there should:

1. See people first as children of God. You should not
be kind to people to propagandize them. Yet you should
have spiritual knowledge, that shared with them will give an
advantage in values, character and a sense of security and
self worth from knowing God loves and notices them.

2. Try to demonstrate good judgment as best you can. People
in trouble are often there because they make bad choices.
But they do not understand how to create yourself through
wise choices. They do not understand how God is one of the
good choices, the church support system and grace.

3. Don’t expect Disney World. Do not teach Disney Land
Christianity. Read Dickens's “Oliver Twist.” Oliver is one of
the worst characters I think I have ever seen created. That kid
is a perfect middle class “Lord Fauntleroy” suddenly appearing
out of a slum, the alleys and a broken home. Life does not
works that way. You turn into what life trains you for.
Ladies, be ready to accept the real for Christ. You will
not perfect it, but you can make it better. If it is perfection
or nothing, don’t start in. You are not ready for Christ.
Go home and keep a loveless house perfectly and rigidly clean.

This is one of my suggestions: spiritually self-called volunteer
persons: being a spiritual cluster person serving broken,
isolated and dysfunctional homes, serving people overlooked
by the church, including those pressured and strained people
who are losing touch with reality. Others have gone to middle
class churches and found it “chilly” there. Get them to another
church except First Deep Freeze. (even if First Deep Freeze
is your church.)

You have short services in homes, guiding, serving older
people often at home, playing, giving what is needed. If you
do this in your neighborhood, fine. If you try this in another
neighborhood, go there at regular hours as you may but not
each day. You have to be special. The trick is being a
concerned member of an extended spiritual family, not always but
enough to make a difference.

Remember you will be working with those who cannot just
open a Bible or sacred book, read it, and get it. They
are usually not “abstract” thinkers. First they must
see the knowledge and values and you model them.

While how you help them is important, how this helps
you, is also, since you are doing something for Christ. You are
working with God in a small way for the redemption of this world.
You and God have a project. God will open Himself more to you
as you and He work to make His invisible Spirit visible and
available to others. It is good to remember as you work, it                      is Christ’s work and the way of the cross leads home.
 

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Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.