"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32Last week, after the election, I was sent an article that upset me very much, not because I believed it was revolutionary or prophetic, but because there was little truth in it, and no hope. Maybe some of you received the same email. It said that America died on November 6, 2012, and the implication was that Democracy didn't work in America, because we re elected Barack Obama. The election was long, and the campaign was brutal, but it wasn't because of the politicians. It was because of the passion of the American people, and what was it that drove us to a voting frenzy the likes of which we have not seen in years?
Was it our desire to leave our children in stable households where parents are devoted to one another for life? Obviously not, the divorce rate in this country is nearing 80% even among Christians. And, really, is it our concern for the poor? Maybe a few people voted out of their concern for the poor, but America, the money the candidates must spend to convince America to push a button, check a box or poke a chad would go a long way in housing and feeding our poor. Friends,most of us voted out of fear, and that fear was not of terrorism, it was the fear of an empty pocketbook, an empty retirement account and a crashing stock market, and the sad truth is,the answer to those fears does not rest in the hands of the Republicans, the Democrats, Mitt Romney, or even President Obama. And they are not to blame. America, we are to blame, and the answer lies in turning back to God.
The problem is, we are a nation of excess, and we want our excess now! It should be plain to us. The number one health crisis in our country in all of our generations is obesity. I have been overweight since I was a small child. Yes, there are genetic factors, and yes there are metabolism issues...mine is far too efficient with calories. But I still eat too much for my body. The same is true with our consumerism in this country. We spend too much for our economy. We have been spending money we don't actually have in our pockets for far too long.
I teach immigrants English, and the stories I hear from my students are sad and ludicrous. Most of them come to this country, hoping for a life of freedom, and they are happy to be here, and willing to work hard. But some of them come here thinking they will find money lying in the streets, stacked up on the street corners. Their families are shocked to find they are not able to send money back home in baskets. Why do they think that about America? Because Americans spend money like we own the world!
I remember my grandparents. My grandmother had a few dresses, and my grandfather had his weekday overalls and his Sunday suit. They were pretty typical. We have come a long way from there. Most of us have more clothes than we will ever wear. Every season our church gives away several rooms full of clothing from the excesses in our closets. Probably some of it is still being paid for in our monthly credit card payments.
Consider the state of our families. What are we teaching our children? We are teaching them that what we "own" is more important than who we are. We get married, and we promise to love one another until death do us part, or, maybe we promise "as long as we both shall love" or some such non-committal commitment. We have lists of requirements for the "soul mate" for which we search, but when we find Mr. Or Ms. Right, we don't stop looking. We want more of everything, and we give little without expecting...oh, everything on a silver platter. We promise to love, and we ridicule. Women ridicule men for being different from women, but what woman really wants a womanly man?
Men want their wives to know what they want when they don't even know what they want or need themselves. Women want their men to take control and lose control at the same time. We all want too much! We are teaching our children to expect too much and leaving them a legacy of want, because they will never succeed in meeting all of their own expectations. We cannot have everything!
What do we do now, in this country? In our hearts, we know the answer. We ask for forgiveness....down on our knees to our Creator, who we know we have sinned against. We give up our idolatry of excess, and we repent of our sins....against Him, against each other and against our children. We Christians are supposed to understand repentance. We have been doing a lot of blaming and precious little owning up to our own responsibility. I read a lot of mourning the morning following the election. No matter who takes over the office of President, the answers do not lie in him. If our democracy lives or if it dies, it will not be the fault or to the credit of any administration, any party or any one person. God can make our democracy live. We can destroy it with our own greed. We are a nation of many blessings, bought at the price of the blood of our ancestors, and we are walking around on the excess debt we created ourselves. Jesus said in Luke 12:15, "Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” That is our problem, America. Our future does not lie in the abundance of our possessions, but in Jesus. And Him alone. We must repent of our excess!