“WHEN DO WE SAY ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?’ AND THEN WHAT??”
The headlines the last several days have overwhelmed us with tragedy. Two young people working for a Virginia news channel, doing a typical “morning news story” are gunned down by a disgruntled former worker. Theatres in various locations in our country, trains in locations around the world, and American embassies have become hot-beds of danger, incident, tragedy and senseless death. These are places that we used to think represented a kind of fortress from the troubling realities of this universe – used to.
And then, yet another, another, another video on the horrific practices of Planned Parenthood is released. To say the least, it places another troubling black pall on what is already a detestable practice – each video showing something even more appalling than the previous ones had.
Through it all, the responses and leadership of both (way too much of) the citizenry as well as officials elected and appointed on both the national and state level (from both parties) to such events wander from confusing to bewildering to stunning silence to amazing apathy to being genuinely insulting.
WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?? We have always known (or at least should have) that, like each of us individually, our nation is far from perfect. Yet despite the obvious faults, shortcomings, and the reality of a nation more and more divided, we had always felt that as, “one nation under God” we were able to steer a course both individually and collectively that would keep our lives safe, productive and at least reasonably moral. That is now clearly no longer the case.
Friends, the answer is simple – and quite revealing. We have lost our soul as a people. And in one sense how could this not happen? Fewer and fewer people go to church anymore. The traditional family, which unquestionably has been the bulwark of how our country was established, as well as the means by which God shares His gifts and grace, is under severe attack and even ridicule. Even those who have spent their lives trying to uphold at least a modicum of such values are either afraid or intimidated into either silence or accession – as many of you have seen in your own families.
There have been several moments in life when I observed certain happenings and general erosion of values when I asked myself, “When are people going to stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough?’. Alright – today, someone needs to say it, and if I am that person, so be it. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!
If we are going to call ourselves Christians, touched by the grace and mercy of our loving God, justified by grace in the forgiveness of sins and the promise of everlasting life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we cannot stand idly by any longer, covering eyes and ears, playing the “see–no–evil, hear–no–evil, so there must not be evil” game anymore. It is time for us to look at our lives, our neighborhoods, our families, even our church structure and ponder what we need to do differently.
I care not to make this go on for pages and pages with a ton of specific recommendations. But as Lutherans, we should remember that THE two most Lutheran questions in the world are: ‘What does this mean?’ and ‘How is this (to be) done?’ Ok, let’s answer those.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, what this means is that we have to begin by looking deep into our own hearts and souls. I am referring to repentance. Nothing else from us is possible until we are willing to lay open our lives at the foot of the cross and look to our Lord and Savior for help and guidance. And no matter what we do then, as a church, as the representative of your family, as someone writing to elected officials demanding action, the message is exactly the same one.
This is not because we are worse sinners than others. Even Jesus had a comment in Luke, chapter thirteen. When told about and discussing what was very likely well-known tragedies of that day, He said, “Do you think that these (people) were worse sinners than all the others? No, I tell you. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” And to say the least, sin has unleashed its merciless tirades into our existence, putting us where we are today.
Okay, so we want to do something. How is this done? As I mentioned earlier, we have lost our collective soul as a people. Which means, in many, many of the people we encounter today, there is nothing but a black hole where the temple of the Holy Spirit should be residing. These people have no clue that they are utterly lost, and hence have no inkling of what they need to do. They either have no concept of what the church can be for them or worse, build up conspiracy theories about the church being nothing but an evil place filled with hypocrites (something we must all plead ‘guilty’ to for bringing about that reality, at least once in a while).
That being the case, I believe the key, after repentance, is a renewed and wholesome focus on family. Which means that, in every setting we are in, we treat ALL matters of the faith as matters of family. And whether that is upholding what family is and should be in our own families, making sure we uphold and affirm all we do in church as being a part of the “family of faith” or working in the public realm to bring back a consciousness of family and worth again, we remind ourselves that this is truly one of God’s greatest gifts, a gift into which His grace, mercy, love and generosity can be poured out and properly dispensed.
Finally, as for what we do in society, G.K. Chesterton once wrote that America is “a nation with the soul of a church”. While I personally may take some issue with that, I do understand that he was one who saw the substance of the American soul most clearly in our Declaration of Independence. He also fully understood that at the heart of the Declaration is the recognition of an inalienable right to life.
But that right to life is rooted in a broader framework of assumptions about what rights are and where rights ultimately come from. The Declaration assumes that America is one nation under God and that all men and women have God-given rights. As Chesterton well understood, without belief in a Creator, our democracy has no compelling reason for defending human rights: the Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all people equal.
But even then, how is this done? As the Lutheran Hour famously reminded us, our goal must always be to bring Christ to the nations, and the nations to the church. In church is where they can learn, and in church is where the glory of our Lord dwells. And it seems only in church anymore can people learn what GOD has to say about what we are and what we need to be.
The excuse-makers will always find and have them for not doing anything anymore. But we are not going to be those people anymore. I will say it again – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! The only way this mess we are in now can be changed is one person at a time – and one person in church – ours or someone elses. That starts with me – and it starts with you! PEACE TO YOU!