“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”—Proverbs 14:12.
“Religion is Losing Influence in U.S,” according to the Easter Sunday headline on the Opinion page of The Dalles Chronicle. While that may be news to some, it is no revelation to Christians. Religion’s importance in America has been declining since the 1960s, accelerating its downward descent exponentially in the last dozen years. Churches once crowded with people of all ages have dwindled in size as the faithful have become fewer and grayer. Many in the younger generations now rarely darken our church doors, and the friendly, familiar echo of children laughing and little feet running up church steps and down corridors has grown muted before soon becoming a memory.
At the same time that religion is losing influence in the United States, not surprisingly, lawlessness, or sin, is increasing.
The value of human life is near rock bottom, as evidenced not only by human atrocities around the world executed by foreign governments on their own people and ISIS supporters, but in our own nation. Crime has become increasingly random and shocking. Law enforcement officers, Christians, Muslims, homosexuals, black men and white men have all been killed at random simply because they were members of a certain group that somebody hated. For many, rape and murder have even become a form of entertainment, as evidenced by the callous and arbitrary murder of an elderly man on Easter Sunday, recorded live, posted by his killer on Facebook, viewed with utter disregard for the value of this man’s life by over 22,000 people and shared by another 1,000 plus more on their own social media.
Drugs are ravaging our families and communities, with heroin related deaths surpassing gun homicides in 2015 for the first time ever according to the CDC. Long term substance abuse is linked to mental illness, with both conditions on the rise and wreaking havoc on our citizens. Our response to drug abuse has been to make it easier than ever to use and abuse drugs by handing out fresh needles, antidotes for overdoses before they are needed, and legalizing entry level drugs like recreational, aka “just for fun”, marijuana, making it as easy to purchase as a gallon of milk at the grocery store. And we wonder why our children become addicts.
Is it merely a coincidence that when faith in God is declining, lawlessness is on the rise? What is it within a man or woman that restrains him from evil and causes him to do good and to love others as himself? Is it mankind’s inherent goodness?
I think not. As for me, I am not a good person. I am selfish and want what I want, when I want it, and I want to do what I want to do, not what you want. What restrains me from living out my selfishness is my faith. If I dare to call myself a Christian – a disciple, or follower, of Jesus Christ – then I must study who he is and become like him. Jesus is good. If there is anything good in me, it is solely because of him and his righteousness living in me.
Reverence for and love of God restrains sin, not the goodness of man. “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’” —Exodus 20:20.
Without a belief in and reverence for God, “good” men and women will eventually become lawless as their love grows cold. That is what our nation is seeing right now. “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” Isaiah 5:20-21. “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” — Matthew 24:12.
Brother and sister, don’t go with the flow. Keep pushing back the dark with the love of Jesus. Stand firm and be counted with Christ. Go back to church. Open your Bibles, read and study the Word of God. Scripture is playing out in real time, folks. We would be wise to know the Word so we can recognize it at work in our world, to follow the example of Christ and be saved, and bring others to a saving knowledge of him through our love, not our lawlessness.