You know when I grew up it seems like times were so much simpler. Maybe it’s just a generational thing and each generation thinks back to the good old day of their youth.
Back when I was young there wasn’t all the “stuff” we worry about now. Just the other day I was talking to some guys and we were talking about how times have changed.
When I young I had a bicycle and a curfew that consisted of being home when the streetlights came on. I didn’t have to tell my mom and dad where I was or where I was going and they trusted me to stay out of trouble and be back when it was time to be back.
I think a lot of the reason I had that ability was the fact that back in those days you could pretty much trust the people around you to look out for kids and there was kind of a mutual respect for right and wrong and if you were doing wrong somebody was going to call your hand on it.
People weren’t as quick to turn a blind eye to what goes on around them back then as they seem to be today.
Back then you could trust in the basic morality of society and your fellow man.
It would be naïve to think that there weren’t bad people back then doing bad things, and I’m not saying that. But basically people were governed by a different set of values back then than they are now.
I’m a child of the fifties, sixties, and seventies so forgive me if my timing is off a bit, but back in the sixties there was what some people refer to as a period of “enlightenment” within society.
Some of that manifested itself with race relations but a lot of it had to do with a general change in how society interacted with itself.
After World War 2 and Korea people were highly patriotic and values and standards were high. Christianity itself was at a high point.
But as Americans are want to do we placed a premium on personal freedom. In doing so we adapted and adopted a live and let live attitude for many things.
One of the fundamental principles found in our constitution is freedom of religion. In embracing that the American public also began embracing a principle of freedom FROM religion.
Not only with religion, many fundamental changes were made. Society began reevaluating the role of churches and schools in the American way of life.
The form and fashion of discipline was changed, at home and at school. The public was presented with “experts” and told that “others” often knew best.
Many people were convinced to turn over the raising of their children to the schools, but in turn nobody told the schools. We took the roll of molding honest, respectful people away from the schools and parents didn’t seem to pick up on the fact that NOBODY was teaching right from wrong anymore.
Slowly over the years we’ve taken some bedrock symbols of “Values” out of our schools. Prayer was discouraged or disallowed altogether. The Ten Commandments couldn’t be posted because they might “offend” someone.
We were told that children should be allowed to develop their own beliefs and make their own choices in many areas.
When we did this we allowed the morals that society had long embraced slip.
As Christians we worried and stewed over it, but as good people we also took a more or less live and let live attitude. We turned the other cheek, so to speak.
As Christians we gave up a leadership roll in guiding our country to a large extent back then. We let our kids stay home instead of making sure they came to Sunday School. We didn’t give them absolutes as far as right and wrong.
We turned a blind eye to what others did. We didn’t speak out forcefully when bad things happened, only made weak protests because we didn’t want to step on others toes. We turned the cheek, because others had a “right” to their beliefs and if it doesn’t really effect “ME”, well, live and let live.
Sometimes even now we seem scared to confront or look for the root causes of societies problems. We don’t want to step on people toes. Too often the underlying problem is the lack of morality that pervades society.
To interject morality into it you have to have a baseline of what is right and acceptable and what is wrong and unacceptable.
Right and wrong. Who get’s to decide? Once upon a time it was the Church, but that’s no longer “politically correct” or acceptable to society.
It’s not the teachers. They can’t interject their beliefs on our kids. Morality falls then to the lowest common denominator. Our society has ended up with an ‘if it feels good do it’ view of right and wrong.
Back in the 19th century there was a British Prime Minister named Benjamin Disraeli who wrote that there were 9 separate stages in the life of a society. I want to give those and elaborate a bit on each.
The first stage is Bondage.
From Bondage Spiritual Faith and Truth is found and grows.
Number two is Spiritual Faith. Having faith in God gives insights from which truth and knowledge grows. From this Courage springs.
From Courage and faith brings the strength to seek and obtain liberty.
Liberty allows man to work for his own good, which allows man to obtain the abundance of creation.
The liberty to create from which abundance comes also allows the ability to become complacent while enjoying the fruits of ones labors.
Complacency breeds greediness, selfishness, and apathy. Apathy can manifest itself in laziness and leads to jealousy. It also can cause a forgetfulness of from where abundance is derived.
Laziness and jealousy breeds a dependency on the work of others to satisfy selfish desires. It causes the loss of respects for others and for truths, large and small, both spiritual and human. Beliefs become matters of convenience. The ends justify the means. The end result of all things becomes what one receives instead of what one creates.
The lack of the ability to create or do for oneself, coupled with desire, results in dependency for survival.
Dependency on others to provide gives way to bondage to others.
Bondage results in the loss of Freedom and Liberty. Coming full circle. Out of bondage then back again.
We need to ask ourselves where we are personally on this journey. No less important is where is our society in this life cycle? What can we do about it?
Today society finds acceptable and commonplace things that just a few short years ago where wholly unacceptable. Where will we be in just a few short years from now? What future are we giving our children and grandchildren?
As Christians we can’t continue to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the world around us.
People used to worry about going to Hell. Whatever happened to going to hell? We quit talking about Hell and people seemed to have forgot about it.
I believe that the Devil and Hell are very real. I believe that evil exists in this world. We should remember John 4: v5-6 The devil led Jesus up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want.”
Satan couldn’t have offered Jesus the world unless it was his to deliver. That’s a powerful force we are confronted with. A force that as Christians we shouldn’t ignore.
As Christians we need to take a more forceful roll in society. I’m not talking just politically but in every day life as well.
When things are unacceptable we should speak out. At least be an example for Christ and a representative of good instead of just idly tolerating the evils around us.
We should question things more. One of the greatest forces on earth is the tongue. And as Christians we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be societies doormat.
Jesus said to spread the Kingdom throughout the world. To share His word. We can’t do this by holding our tongue and hiding in the shadows.
We are not called to stand idly by as the world falls apart around us. We are to be a light to the world. A beacon. A lighthouse in the storm that rages around us.
Turning the other cheek doesn’t mean tolerating evil and immorality.
If we want the world to be a better place we can’t sit on the sidelines. Evil exists.
The Christian community has taken a lot of heat in the past week or so from Preacher in Florida that burned a Koran. It drew a lot of press here at home and the reaction to the burning of that one book caused massive protests and even the loss of life in far away lands.
At the same time that same media virtually ignored the plight of a group of up to 40,000 Christians that were taking shelter in a Catholic mission in the Ivory Coast from a group out to kill them all. Hundreds died, only because they were Christians. Still we sit on the sidelines. Raising our voice isn’t politically correct.
I’m certainly not advocating burning books and such, but our society says its alright to point fingers and say “Shame on you.” to the preacher that burned that Koran, but tells us we shouldn’t raise questions about the motivations of those that want to kill Christians.
In fact over the last few year Christians have become an easy target. Christianity has been falsely claimed to be the cause of many of the worlds ills today. Blamed for wars and hate and the deaths of many throughout the ages. Not true.
Christianity has brought more good into the world than any evil some misguided Christian ever caused. Crusade, inquisition, or otherwise. Christians HAVE been on the receiving end of much evil however, from crucifixions, and roman circuses, to bloody wars, purges, and jihad.
In large parts of the world it is not only illegal to be Christian it’s deadly. Christians are rounded up regularly and persecuted in many areas of the world quite openly.
Still we turn our cheek and the world keeps turning.
As I’ve said before, I fight a battle each and every day between my ‘will’ and God’s desire for me. I am nowhere near a perfect human and both God and the Devil constantly remind me of that fact.
But, even though I’m not always successful and I do sin, I am conscience of the fact that I am an example to those around me. That helps center me in my daily walk. We all are examples, one way or the other, to the people around us.
As a part of a Christian example we also need to speak out about what happens around us concerning those issues of the day.
Once we held America up as the greatest nation on earth. A blessed and favored nation.
As a country there was a time in the not to distant past that we held our religious foundation up as an example of what made our country great. We held out that one of the major faults of Russia, China, and the communists were that they were Atheistic countries. Countries held in bondage to a Godless society.
Evil counts on good men doing nothing. We need to understand that freedom OF religion never meant freedom FROM religion in the first place.
We need to think about those 9 stages in the life of a society. Contemplate where we are along that road. Remember where that abundant life we experienced came from and seek a pathway back.
Matthew 5:13 says – “You are the worlds seasoning, to make it tolerable. If you lose your flavor what will happen to the world? You yourself will be thrown out and trampled.”
Matthew 5:15 – 16 “Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all! Let your good deeds glow for all to see, so they will praise your Heavenly Father.”
If we hide the light of Christianity away from the world for fear of offending others, or trampling on others freedoms, somehow thinking we can’t afford to stand up for our beliefs and interject those beliefs into the workings of our country and the world around us then only dark days can follow.
We wouldn’t be following the call to spread His light out into the world.