Guest post by Rebecca Y. Chaney
Why is our nation in decline? It is easy to play Captain Obvious with a squinched forehead and pointed finger and list the ways our nation is suffering. It is a bit harder to pin down the root issues of why. What is the ultimate reason our nation and world are in utter decay?
At one time in our nation’s history, we had core belief systems that were upheld by core institutions for over one hundred years. As a result, trust was earned. For any society to remain in some form of consistent security and steadfastness, there must be some level of trust. As time passed, and because cultural and individual values shifted to a self-centric system, trust was eroded.
In the 1940s, World War II was ongoing, and the world was in chaos. By the 1950s, Boomers were growing up, and young adults were second-guessing rules, authorities, and even morality. Our veterans were returning home from the war, battle weary and fatigued. In the 1960s, alternative philosophies wreaked havoc across the fruited plains. Drugs, feminism, devaluation of male and female relationships, sexual confusion, vocational rights, and human injustices were brought front and center to public conversations. We saw the government invest in war because they saw the profit. Churches fought, and denominations were at odds. Pop Culture influenced new religious beliefs such as mysticism. The LGBTQ+ community was breaking out as heavily as teen acne, and the nuclear family was under assault.
By the end of the 1960s, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, presidential embarrassments, and abortion were normal. Christianity and the Church were being challenged. By the end of the 1970s, people were tired. The culture was successfully trashing once-loved and revered institutions. The people hoped that a well-meaning President Reagan could help get things back on track, but it was too far gone.
Luke 11:24-26 tells us what happens when you clean your house, sit down, and take a break.
“When an unclean spirit comes out of man, it roams through waterless places looking for rest, and not finding it, it then says, ‘I’ll go back to my house where I came.’ And returning, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that man’s last condition is worse than the first.”
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After World War II, people were tired and took a break. It reminds me of the Israelites, and today, we are no different. After God gave Israel the victory and inheritance of the land, people enjoyed peace and rest. (Joshua 21:43-44). But the people still had a sacred responsibility to honor and obey God, who had rescued and delivered them. They were commanded to love God and serve Him only. Judges chapter 1 summarizes the very last of the land’s conquest and the fact that Israel failed to do what God commanded of them. They were to cast out idols and idolatrous inhabitants of the land of Canaan. The Angel of the Lord warned them they would have severe consequences if they did not. (Judges 2:1-3). During the years of Joshua, the people took to heart the command of God. Judges 2:7 says they served the Lord all their days. But after that generation died, the people turned to idols, for they knew not what the Lord had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)
The remaining Canaanites that the Israelites failed to destroy influenced the Israelites to worship false idols. God’s anger against idolatry and disobedience burned, and he handed them over to the surrounding nations. (Judges 2:14) But God is merciful, and He showed the Israelites this mercy over and over. Here is the pattern. Does this sound familiar?
The Israelites turn to idols, and it angers the one true God. God brings punishment because He is Holy and cannot be part of sin. The Israelites cry out for deliverance. God shows mercy and provides a deliverer raised up through a Judge. After deliverance, the Israelites turn to idolatry. The cycle repeats.
Do we not do this as Americans? As the world? The failure of man from the time of the Old Testament Israelites to present-day men and women is rooted in our disobedience and our failure to trust God which is covetousness. What our heart values determines where our heart leads. Taking a break is never an option. When we seemingly tidy up our lives and our areas of influence, and when all seems to be right in the world for even a short time, we sit down. We take a break. We go to sleep. The cycle repeats, but usually, as Luke 11:24-26 tells us, things get much worse.
God tells us in Luke to “occupy until I come.” God also tells us in Genesis to “tend the garden.” We want to sow and reap the harvests of life! We are simply to steward well the talents and trusts we have been given so we will reap a harvest. (Galatians 6:9). If we do not allow Christ to occupy through us, something WILL occupy that space that is much grimmer.
Our western culture is inundated with comfort. Part of the great reward of capitalism is the enjoyment of the fruits of thy labor. We have forgotten that our greatest strategy for enjoying gifts from the Lord is through wise stewardship. One day, those in Christ will get an eternal rest that never wears out, but until that day, we must be faithful to steward well all that God has given us. Being idle can lead to idols. We must resist the urge to sit down and take a break. You cannot take a break and push a reset button when things are disorderly again. Culture does not work this way. With our personal lives, our homes, and our nation, it takes constant stewarding to prevent unwelcomed guests from taking over and influencing us away from the path that leads to life. May nothing secure the ultimate hold of our hearts but Christ alone. NO BREAKS! Onward!
Rebecca Y. Chaney is the Director of Restore Liberty for Mississippi