Death and resurrection.
The biblical record of Israel's return from Babylonian captivity provides an interesting parallel to the cultural constructs of twenty-first century America. When Ezra and the other captives were released by Persian ruler Cyrus they returned to find Jerusalem in ruins and Solomon's Temple destroyed. Their instructions were to "rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel" (Ezra 1:3, ESV). After taking a census the work began. Two years later the foundation of the temple had been laid. There was a day of celebration and worship to re-institute the cult of Israel. When the younger members of the nation saw the temple foundations they rejoiced and shouted. The older priests, Levites, and heads of households who remembered Solomon's Temple wept. As a result "...the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping" (Ezra 4:23, ESV).
It reminds me of the moral makeover taking place in our nation right now. Many are cheering and many are weeping, often along generational lines, and certainly in the collision of worldviews so obvious in our culture. What we see and hear in media is the cacophony of confusion, the sorrowful lament of those who believe in such standards, and the loud cheering of those who do not. At the root of this clash may be a basic spiritual understanding about time. Solomon wrote about it in Ecclesiastes.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be
born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to
kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and
a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, ESV
Yes, many would argue that it's time to lay those worn, old, traditional standards to rest. As a result they would celebrate the demise of the moral standards that have defined our nation for 240 years. Adjusting the spiritual and ethical landscape to accommodate the times seems to be the order of the day for secularists and people who lean decidedly to the left. Many more of us, me included, see this as a time to mourn. And, that may be the underlying confusion of the times. What events and circumstances and ideals are worthy of celebration and which ones should occasion grief. In my opinion, the dismantling of our basic standards are the latter. If history somehow factors into this consideration, and by that I mean biblical history and secular history as well, cultures without moral boundaries just don't survive very long.
OK, so let's make a list. There's an anti-authoritarian movement, a leftist media, attacks on biblical morality, gender debates, racial collision, generational dynamics, consistent
devaluing of human life, open public displays of political perversion, absolute meanness on the streets, financial scams, educational mishandling, corruption in the sacred halls of corporate America,, applauded dishonor of the nation and those who serve/have served, immigration stress, and more bullet points of moral transition that I can mention. In my mind they all derive out of the secularization of everything flowing down on society from the swamp of leftist America. More particularly, theses many ills are the concentric circles around three societal modifiers: respect, kindness, and decency. Those grave markers will be my topics this week.
For my Christian friends:
My Christian worldview accepts death as life certainty. Just the same, this worldview doesn't grieve as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but celebrates hope through resurrection and eternity as an anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19). These biblical concepts provide a basic underpinning of faith that is optimistic and positive. They remind me that these standard ideals, though being increasingly dead in our culture, can be resurrected by God through people who live them. My mourning is for those who must endure the harsh realities of a world without limits. They are our grandchildren and those who will follow. Please join me in two prayers: one, that each of us will live the Christian worldview every day; and, two, that God will raise up courageous leaders who will guide our nation to it's rightful place of global moral leadership.
We must live the truth of death, and resurrection.
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