“For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative…Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.”1
Why can’t Americans hear and see clearly? Why are they blind, dull of hearing and even deaf when truth is the issue? When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were, He answered, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.” The apostle Paul re-emphasized the importance of loving your neighbor. “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command,”2 he said.
When we do not obey these great commandments, everything is in disarray, leading to deception and the destruction of that which is precious, including true freedom.
All of creation (except human beings) recognize God must be first, and that He is the source upon which to depend. Romans chapter one says God revealed Himself in creation so that as human beings are without excuse. Nature reveals that life is of ultimate importance and predatory forces are seeking to diminish and even destroy it. Even wildlife understands that predators take life, and the fertile fields show us that pestilence and briars hinder fruitfulness.
Jeremiah pointed out that the oceans must remain within the boundaries set by God. When the oceans move beyond those boundaries, catastrophic consequences are the result. Consider the negative damaging effects of tsunamis, hurricanes, typhoons, and floods. Jeremiah also noted that the oceans return to their borders. All creation must yield to the boundaries established by God in order for life to be sustained and secure. Tragically throughout history, human beings created by God have chosen to live outside the boundaries and to put many things before Him, making something else their source.
Jesus proclaimed that God loves us more than He does any other creation. He considers us of far greater value than mere sparrows—and yet He is aware when even one of them falls to the ground. Jesus said, as the children of God, we should open our eyes and consider all of creation, such as birds. They trust God as their source, but they do not worry. At the same time, they do work diligently. They don’t simply wait on a branch for God to build a nest, provide for them, drop insects or worms nearby so they can pick them up. They go to work. They are continually seeking to find and utilize what God has made available for their well-being.
Those of us created in God’s image too often seek a source other than God. When we turn to another source, just as Israel did with Pharaoh, bondage is the result.
The well-publicized documentary airing on the History Channel, “The Bible,” is produced by truly gifted people and a couple whom I believe wish to share God’s love with the world. The first program aired this past Sunday. The ratings indicate that more than 14 million people watched it, and I was one of those.
I appreciated many of the truths presented, though I’m wondering how well Jesus will be presented and perceived. It is very hard for people to see Him clearly apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. One thing I noticed is that the documentary moved from Abraham’s offering of Isaac—a definite picture of the promised Messiah—into Israel in Egyptian bondage. Perhaps for time’s sake or maybe an oversight, they didn’t reveal how Israel became slaves to Egypt and to Pharaoh. They actually sold themselves to Pharaoh because of the success he had when he received the wise counsel God offered through Joseph.
We have seen the same practice repeated throughout history. In our own day here in America, we are now witnessing the consequences of turning to the federal government as our source. The American people have put before God many idols: pleasure, success, various forms of entertainment, sensual pursuits, addictive practices, greed, religious traditions, and partisanship, to name a few. We are rapidly moving toward an extreme socialist government that actually borders on pure progressive collectivism—even communism. It won’t work. It never has, and it won’t now. Why can’t the American people see this? Because they have put something before God. It could even be religious beliefs, absent the personal relationship with the living God through faith in Jesus Christ.
All religions are not the same. Relationship with God comes through faith in the sacrificial gift of His Son, and abundant life is found in the reality of His resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit to indwell us and flow freely through us like a river of love and life. When God is not first, true expressions of genuine abundant life Jesus referenced will cease, we do not love ourselves properly, and we certainly cannot love our neighbor as we should. Such is the case in too much of our own country. We are seeing the tragic result of not loving God and our neighbor.
Let me give you an example. Because we found a source other than God, we have erroneously turned attention to the needs of the poor, helpless, and downtrodden over to the wrong source—another form of Pharaoh—and catastrophic results have followed. This is not to imply that “we the people” cannot inspire and instruct correct federal and state programs for the benefit of the people; but they will never be effective without the focus on and love for the people in need of help.
Today, we are witnessing ever-increasing hostility toward those who are referred to as the top five or ten percent – the upper class, the prosperous or the wealthy. Without knowing it, some of the nation’s wealthiest families have excused themselves from paying proper attention to their neighbor. First of all, many of them have not recognized God as their source—the One who gave them the ability to be productive, creative, meet legitimate needs effectively, and offer people things they rightfully desire and enjoy. It’s easy for entrepreneurs and highly motivated people to put business, success, and visionary goals ahead of the God who gives them the resources to use creatively so they can accomplish their goals and succeed.
Also, when these people are paying a large percentage of their hard-earned income to the federal government—30%, 35%, now reaching nearly 40%, and as high as 70% in the past–the prosperous feel like they have handed the federal government, our present-day Pharaoh, the resources to take care of the poor. After all, the politicians have promised the people they will take care of them.
The government and politicians, who unwittingly or deliberately are manipulating the needy, promising to meet their needs by taking from the “haves” to distribute to the “have-nots,” have actually helped keep these people in bondage and dependency. They also have encouraged the wealthy, who could address the serious problems of our day and come up with meaningful solutions, to simply dismiss themselves from that responsibility and “just trust the Feds.”
There we go…professing to be wise, we prove to the whole world how foolish we actually are. Everyone suffers! The poor suffer the most because the only way to correct our nation’s catastrophic course, to assist the poor and alleviate suffering, is for the people who create, who know how to meet challenges and needs, to focus their own personal attention first on God, then on their neighbor.
When God is first, we will keep “first things first.” We will be committed to our spouse, family, church, community, state, nation, and reach out to the ends of the earth. When our priorities are right, we will begin to restore the breach in the wall and stop the catastrophic consequences resulting from living outside the boundaries set by God.
As Jeremiah pointed out, the oceans return to their boundaries. Surely we as human beings can come to our senses, return to God with our whole heart and move back within the boundaries He established. The prophet Isaiah said, “We can be known as people who restore the foundation and begin to rebuild the walls.” Can’t we have the wisdom of Nehemiah who rebuilt the walls in the face of fierce opposition? Can’t we somehow heed the words of Jesus and reveal the Light of the world, not “in word only, but also in deed”?
Please keep this simple truth in mind: poverty, lack, serious need including hunger—both physical and spiritual—can only be met by those who have the means to address it. Spiritual needs can only be met by those who have experienced a life-transforming relationship, who know God personally and live in the power of His indwelling Spirit. Physical needs can only be met by those who have the ability, wealth, and resources to address those undeniable, legitimate needs. We don’t have to be rich to help our neighbor. We just have to care enough to share.
The current, prevailing, upside-down worldview must be impacted the same way it was in Acts 4 when the New Testament believers turned their inverted world right-side-up. It’s not too late to do this. I pray the poor will hear this: the federal government and politicians are not the solution to the challenges you face and experience daily. The love of God expressed through people committed to God is your hope, and the resources necessary to meet your need will come from people who have been blessed by God—many of whom have been deceived and misled to trust the wrong source to meet the needs of their neighbor.
To those who are successful and blessed: you were blessed for a reason. Not just to soak them up, but to become fruitful. To become an ever-flowing river of God’s love and life, offering His mercy and help to those in need through focused, compassionate acts. Stop just giving handouts and allowing the government to dole them out without ever offering a hand up. It’s time for all of us to refocus our eyes on God, love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and begin to love our neighbor the way God expects us to.
I still believe the vast majority of Americans want to alleviate suffering. It’s been the American way. I don’t think we have lost it yet, but we’re getting close, and we’re in the process of destroying the ability to be in a position to do something effective. Let’s refocus our attention on God and our neighbor, and together work to help others by inspiring people to rise above their present circumstances in the power of love. We must do it, and we must do it now for the glory of God and the benefit of all.