The Assault Against Maturity and It’s Political Impact
By: Jeffrey A. Ziegler President: SGI
I am not quite sure what the problem is: a renaissance of nihilistic thought, the corporate effects of new age Oprah Winfrey fads, a loss of historic perspective, a national dulling of the senses, or our own inbred Pollyanna denial of conflict, but America is infected with an unbalanced, unrealistic, and ultimately dangerous utopian view of national life. How is it that we so often ignore the vast historical data of our own national growth which depicts conflict, tumult, tribulation, pain, and suffering? A crucible which taken together with our own corporate Faith in God led to the building of the greatest nation yet known to man. Apparently socialistic ease is now esteemed over strife and competition leading to excellence and dominance. Witness the rise of Barack Obama. Fifty million plus American’s voted for him so as to relieve their perceived stress. To which I say; “WHAT STRESS?” Compared to: Valley Forge? Gettysburg? Iwo Jima? Korea? Vietnam? The Cold War? Are we to esteem ease over freedom? If so, we deserve neither!
Scripturally The Apostle Paul makes more than a few references to the fighting’s that are within and from without. Job the suffering servant, whose book is perhaps the oldest in Holy Writ, is also the least quoted in the modern world. Any gains of the Hebrew Commonwealth and the Kingdom of Israel were not without great sacrifice and upheaval. The Book of the Acts is replete with dramatic conversions, miracles, persecutions, martyrdom, political infighting, and intrigue. No evidence here of the peaceful mundane. The Master Himself said that “in this world, you will have tribulation.” Such tribulation is not confined to physical persecution, imprisonment, or political tyranny. In fact, Scripture places far more weight and stress on our battles with sin, being sinned against, heartbreak, loss, and emotional hardship than it does outward oppression. The point here is that the people of God have always had conflict. Yet, Faith in God, the superiority of Christ over all that is contrary here, gave his people the holy “steel” for their corporate backbone to fulfill their divine destiny. A destiny which transcends and gives meaning to pain, suffering, and conflict.
In this light two principles beg to be considered for modern Americans.
1) Life does not revolve around you. Surprise! It was not too long ago that most people, both Christian and non-Christian, understood this salient fact. I’m quite sure that our grandparents, who knew the deprivations of the Great Depression, and the boys on Omaha Beach comprehended this certainty. However, our generation, driven by caprice and selfishness, along with a cult of victimization, seems to believe that every pleasure in life is “owed to them” and that all sorrow, disease, or calamity, should be kept far from them by some Federal intervention. To compound this problematic childishness, when the modern American does not get what he wants, he shifts blame for his every failure to a politico, religion, or even God. Such whining is reprehensible, but is still an obnoxious fact of the moderns. These actions are in the grand tradition of Adam’s infamous reference to Eve in Genesis 3:12, wherein all blame is for his sin is shifted to the weaker vessel. Yet it is the “Adamic sin nature” that is remembered and not Eve. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, life on planet Earth will never be so good, so as to forget the promise of heaven. It’s time to grow up and reaffirm this truth.
2) Faith in a God-ordained national future is more than a confession. A cursory glance at Hebrews chapter 11 (the Hall of Fame of Faith) denotes not a litany of confessions, but instead a catalog of actions. As James declares, “faith without works is dead.” It is too easy to complain and curse the darkness. No faith is required to recognize evil or chaff under its influence. But making a stand, as a real man, this requires faith. Faith is not comprised of false bravado brandished by those who boast in their prowess in a yet future “no-holds-barred” calamity (these are exceedingly rare). Faith, and the acts of faith, are more generally played out in what might be termed “holy monotony.” That is, doing your duty, in the church, the workplace, in the community, and for the nation with consistency and expectation, no matter how difficult or challenging it may be.
Staying the course without immediate reward or recompense was the great signal testimony of the “Father of Faith,” even faithful Abraham. He saw the promise far off, yet, it was never fully realized in his lifetime. Such overarching vision guards the heart from selfishness, bitterness, and childish protest. Certainly, there is nothing profound in these principles. They were once a part and parcel of a very basic and rudimentary understanding of what it meant to be an American. Unfortunately, the longer I live, the more I realize just how great our cultural, social, and moral deprivation is. What was once basic has somehow become enigmatic. I’m reminded of a World War II ballad, “We are poor little lambs who have lost our way …. baa baa black sheep.”
Clearly, for the American Christian, such an immature testimony falls far below the royal pedigree that the Master has secured for us in His own blood. Therefore, we must highly resolve to turn the tide! We must strive for maturity, shame cowardice, expose the ignoble, agitate against the dishonorable, upbraid the unchivalrous, and put away childish things. That is, life on planet earth is at minimum difficult. It stings! Sometimes beyond imagination. Life is designed by God with a sharp edge so as to prepare us for greatness! Only the eyes of faith, undergirded by hope, can produce a sense of individual and national destiny, mature and fully functional, that will give honor to God and eclipse the wailing of victimization or the illusory hope of a pain-free existence without achievement.
From a political perspective the utopian always rides the “back of the tiger” named envy. This has given rise to the cult of victimization leading to Communism, Fascism, and other statist designs. Unless the church first begins the eradication of such thoughts along with the accompanying fads, programs, and pandering, little will be done to rid the political culture of these insidious designs. It was Gen. Douglas MacArthur in his address to Congress who said: “… the political problems of our day our chiefly theological in nature. Only a spiritual revolution can blunt and tame man’s passions.” Indeed, in order for a new generation of Christian statesman to arise, pulpits and churchman alike will have to exchange the epistemology of the “belly” for the glory of Christ”s Crown. Only then will true national renovation take place and America once the home of John Wayne, may silence forever the obnoxious cult of “John Whine.”