Blithe acceptance of godlessness, once creeping in our land, now sweeping like a flood in our land, has been ours. Ours is the sitting on our hands, ours the bemoaning of other people’s heedlessness of the gospel, ours the placing of blame on this or that ecclesiastical circumstance. Our acceptance of the growth of ungodliness was perhaps because we “didn’t want to talk about political things from the pulpit” or perhaps because we didn’t want to “end on the Law” or perhaps because of some other shibboleth with the patina of orthodoxy slapped on it. The result has been that in the past half-century, the number of our churches and the number of our Christians have both decreased, even as the number of Americans has increased.
A headlong rush into every kind of self-destruction, every sort of suicide-on-a-time-delay, has been our countrymen’s fate. “Deaths of despair” have risen, the dollar buys less than it has in most of our lifetimes, and a cynicism about our government, our schools, our church body, and our own families has become predictable in ourselves and in our neighbors. Despair and cynicism can watch from a comfortable distance while people devote themselves to demons and to the teachings of demons: to the mutilation of their bodies in the pursuit of their true selves, to the destruction of children either in the womb or in the gender-therapy clinic, to the terror of encountering another human being who may be carrying a disease, to every specter and every demand of Molech. Devotion to self-destruction and to the destruction of others in the name of Diversity-Inclusion-Equity, in the name of Protecting Ourselves and Protecting Others, in the name of My Body, My Choice—this has been ours and our families’, our neighbors’, our friends’. We have overdosed yet again on what will kill us, the body of America laid out, gasping, and unresponsive, and once that body has been narcanned one more time, we will still love what will destroy us.
What will be done in the Name of Jesus? Is that Name mightier than all other names? Can that Name overcome all these foes and resurrect that self-destructive corpse of a nation? As our nation rages and the princes of media, finance, politics, and every other power-group scheme against the Lord and against His Christ, the Lord holds those princes, those powers, those forces of darkness in derision. He is not terrified by their financial holdings, by their campaign donations, or by their capacity to inflict harm on His people. He is not cowed by their mandates, directives, and encouragements to violence. He is not afraid when they hire mobs to burn down cities or allow the price of everything to skyrocket. He reigns over all things. He remains King whoever the president is. He is seated high on His eternal throne with the seraphim hovering in wonder and in fear around Him.
Who will go for Him? Who will speak His Name? Questions so urgent are what is behind Luther Classical College and every new endeavor of hope now beginning in Christ’s Church. We are not huddling around the ashes left behind from our fathers’ fires. We are keepers of holy flame, and now the fire of God’s Name must spread. It is not enough that some few of us should know Christ’s truth while our own families, our own towns, and our own country are overwhelmed by lies and subject to the devil, a liar from the beginning. It is not enough that we should be warmed by the fire of God’s Word while our children’s souls freeze to death for lack of the knowledge of the only true God. It is not enough that we should live lives of peace and joy in believing while the people right next to us have no peace, no joy, and no hope because Christ is a stranger to them.
He did not have His hands imprinted with mark of the nails nor did He show the scars to His disciples so that He could remain far off. It is not His desire that our children should be fed the scraps of communism, self-hatred, and Covid panic in their schools instead of His nourishing Word. It is not His will that people should be ignorant of the doctrine that makes us wise for salvation. It is not His intention that any man should die apart from Him, but that the sinner—blighted, addicted, depressed, anxious, looking at his phone all the time and never to Jesus—should turn from those ways of death and live. He is nearer to us than our own hearts, and He would have the heart and the mind and the soul and the strength into the bargain. He would have all of us that He may raise up all of us at the last.
We have lived in indifference long enough. The time is long past for internecine squabbling, for the frantic quashing of new endeavors, for the criticizing and the harping and the bickering that sufficed for times of prosperity and ease, for the carping tone and the hurried walk past the prone body of the man fallen among thieves, bleeding out his life’s blood as we walk right past in discomfort and with a twinge of guilt. Our indifference has taken our children’s souls and turned their hearts far from us, so that we barely know our own. Our indifference has allowed our neighbors to go on with their lives unbothered by us, so that they divorce one another and get one another addicted to every kind of evil without our lifting a finger to help where we could have. Our indifference is killing us, and we have mistaken this quiet slip into death for peace.
Now is the time for love. What won’t you do, what wouldn’t you give to see your children in heaven, to see your neighbors living life in the Way of peace, to see your country turned to the fear of the Lord? The robbers have overtaken us and our children and our country, and we lie unresponsive by the road on the way to Jericho, a city that never should have been built, rebuilt at the cost of a child’s life (Josh. 6:26, 1 Kgs. 14:34). Here comes the priest who passes us by because he has better things to do than that; his vestments remain unsoiled by our filth. Here comes the Levite who is very involved in church life and is too busy to help the helpless; his conscience will find some excuse for his rush. Here comes Christ, the good Samaritan, cast out, despised, not much to look at. He sees us, He sees our children starving for His Word, He sees our country distraught, depressed, demon-afflicted, bleeding to death. He knows our need, He hears our cry, and now He reaches down to heal.