"Is there any doubt that the handwriting is on the wall for where we are heading? If we look around, we will see the outcome of these trends in countries that are ahead of us in teaching the logical conclusions of such cultural drift. We see in such cases that manners have been corrupted, morality has sunk into depravity, indulgence is out of control and above all, faith has been discredited and unbelief has become fashionable. When a culture reaches this point, it becomes so out of touch with truth that masses of people deny outright the existence of God. God's will for the nation has been abandoned and man has been made God."
William Wilberforce, adaptation by Bob Beltz, Real Christianity
My guess is you'll never guess when that was first published?
And it wasn't even about the United States, it was jolly old England he was speaking about.
But it could have been Anytown, USA -- and not some odd two hundred years ago, but more like just last week.
The book makes quite the case for getting the masses' head out of our proverbial a** -- with a greater sense of elegance, of course. But his point, throughout every phrase, exclamation and lamentation, is that "a nominal faith" will not save us; "it will take a vital faith for Christianity [our culture, society...whatever] to survive at all..."
..."When the cement that has held a nation
no longer exists,
the state soon dissolves into anarchy."
We, as a nation, and as a people, are being surrounded by wake up calls; and likewise, it is how we choose to respond that will make all the difference. Will we roll over for five more minutes? Will we keep hitting the snooze button? Will we just rationalize not showing up today because we owe it to ourselves to have a day off, a day to play, a day to play hookie? We've been good; we're a good person, deep down; I deserve it...what's a little white lie gonna do really?
Few books these days have the ability to really touch us -- speak to us. This is one. Buy it today.
In a word, we have issues -- and it's not for lack of intelligence, or understanding of history, or misrepresentation of the facts.
Oops. Scratch that; maybe it is.
We just think we are so hot these days, don't we? We just think, I am, therefore, I AM! Who needs a God anymore? Who needs to live from the soul, in relationship to that which gave us everything?
We are simply too smart, too studied, too full of ourselves and what we know -- we can do it all, without any help, without living from a higher consciousness and spiritual connection to that which is greater than ourselves, any day, everyday, bring it.
Granted this version of Wilberforce is a force to be reckoned with; it's a modern take that almost takes your breath away; but can you just imagine it? Wilberforce was thinking this stuff over two hundred years ago; he got to the core of a touchy, cultural phenomenon without mincing words or sugarcoating his disfavor -- basically calling everybody out and saying, get over yourselves, will you! with an attitude of just look at us, look around, don't you see what is happening here?
Delving deeper he simply says, if you think God is satisfied with this "cultural Christianity" thing we got going on, then you got another thing coming; adding, it's not enough to be born into Christianity and be done with it -- deliberate and contemplative attention to the details is absolute and required. [kind of like it's not enough to be born in America, that makes you an American...it becomes so much more than that, over a lifetime.]
Describing "true Christians" in terms of "it is a joy for them to serve the Lord. They don't live lives out of obedience out of some heartless obligation to a punitive deity. They live joyfully in the blessing of the life God designed...this kind of faith is filled with happiness."
And really, not just Christianity, but in all faiths -- the key is found in the connection to God, any God, and being in relationship to It, day in and day out, thankfully, graciously, adoringly, lovingly, and living in the company of others coming from this spirit of understanding and grace, in every way.
So much of what was done by our founding fathers was connected to this core belief -- as they lived it, breathed it, embodied it -- as these truths to live by were transcendent and inherent by nature, endowed by our Creator. The culture of the time, and in turn our government, came out of the forces of Divine Providence meeting up with the minds of men who deliberately elevated the essential element of the common man, the individual, becoming the cornerstone of a nation, and forever remaining the vital piece of the puzzle .
It was entirely up to the individual to make the connection with God -- as England had already taught them everything they needed to know; and to live by this connection not out of obedience to a "punitive deity" but to live joyously, finding purpose, vibrantly connected to the Source of all Good in order to create the new world with It.
It was an idea ahead of it's time; it was an idea obligating the individual to do his duty, to live right and good; it was an idea that allowed for the perfect pairing of freedom with unalienable rights, to grow into productive, active, participants in the life and times. As long as we stayed in relationship with God -- and passionately so -- our culture could live in peace and harmony throughout all the days to come.
What we are witnessing today -- as in 1797 -- is the watering down of this Christianity, the very root of our beginning; and, if we are not careful, perhaps this will be the cause of our ultimate demise. We have allowed modern conveniences and conforming to culture, rationalizing bad behavior and succumbing to vices, to take over right action.
Wilberforce claims that to live in authentic faith, requires right action, with a passion, and a real desire to please God -- from our heart and soul, never ceasing. It is not enough to call ourselves Christian and not live by It, to not center our world around Christ and His teachings. It is simply not enough.
But now, we have a culture who would rather discredit Christianity, bury it as just some old world teachings we no longer have any use for -- we have evolved beyond the need for belief in anything but ourselves, more loyal to our things than our faith, firmer allegiance to our careers than our God, finding our savior through an impoverished lifestyle that simply can't be bothered -- for who's got time for It really -- all we want to do is roll over and hit snooze. It's Sunday, after all -- yesterday -- my only day to rest, for Christ sake.
Wilberforce believes that what is asked of us is an "unconditional surrender" -- that when we live from this position of letting our lives be in the hands and heart of a loving God, we act according to our faith, we benefit in proportion to this faith, and create a life of happiness resting in the knowledge that this life on earth is temporal, that our true destiny is eternal life -- this life on earth is just a "passing through." Above all, we will gladly do anything in this life to show our love for God, and take care of each other, authentically, reverently, overflowing in the spirit of this true faith.
"we are headed toward a society
that incurs the multitude of evils
from living with
no religion at all."
Many barbarisms of our past have been stricken from society simply with the influx of living according to true faith; culture is strengthened in every way imaginable when connected with each other by an authentic, real Christianity, illuminating a higher purpose to live by, inspired to please God, content in our own humility, and satisfied with the simple life; the more our culture finds it's way further and further away from this reality, the greater our chances to falter. History proves it, time and time again.
As it was in 1797, don't kid yourselves, it can happen here, in a heartbeat. It would behoove all of us not to roll over and play dead.
Nations have fallen on the decline of faith before, so..."Let this be a warning. It would be a tragic mistake to think that even though the moral fiber of our country has deteriorated, our prosperity and wealth will keep us from drifting further. Nor let us imagine that the fate of Rome might never be our own."
Yeah, like we really have that "prosperity and wealth" thing going on to fall back on...that's a good one.
Make it a Good Day, G
and just so you know -- just as in the making of good Christians (substitute Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, any belief system far and wide) anywhere and everywhere -- for future reference, it's not made a good day until YOU make it one.