The lady is on her deathbed, it would appear. Her mind comes and goes, according to family members. Sometimes she is lucid, at other times not.
They called me. Would I come by the hospital to see her? The daughter said, “Sometimes when she is ‘with us,’ she seems troubled. Today she said, ‘There are some people I need to apologize to.'”
“We were hoping you could give her some peace.”
Since I was the family’s pastor many years ago, I knew some of the history. My feeling was that the lady was a genuine Christian although I sensed she had not progressed in spiritual maturity as she should.
In her hospital room I greeted her and we chatted. I said, “You have given your life to Jesus Christ, is that right?” The voice was weak, but she was nodding her head. She had. “And you love Him?” Again, yes.
“But you have not always been faithful.” She shook her head, indicating it was so true.
I said, “Neither have I. None of us have. We have all done a poor job of living for Him. That’s why we appreciate so much His faithfulness.”
Do you want the schools to teach the Bible? Do you want prayer returned to the schools? Would you like stores and movies to shut down on Sundays? Taverns too?
If so, you would have loved life in the South in the 1940s.
Jerry Clower–the wonderful Mississippi comedian and Baptist deacon whom I was honored to call friend–used to say, “My mama wants prayer in the schools. But what she means is she wants a Southern Baptist prayer. She does not want anyone and everyone leading the children in prayer.”
When the city council or state legislature decides to open each session with prayer and they start inviting outsiders to lead those prayers, they are duty-bound to respect all denominations and all religions in their area. It’s the fair thing to do.
They will get every conceivable prayer and pray-er. It’s a given, and there is not a cotton-picking thing anyone can do about it. It’s the price they pay for wanting to begin with prayer.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find…. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God…. (Romans 7:18,24-25).
Any of us can undo all the good we have done at any moment.
No believer is incapable of messing up and doing so royally.
Even though we are saved and saved forever, nothing about that prevents us from doing something truly stupid and harmful.
It’s that knowledge that keeps the faithful man and woman of God ever alert, constantly watching, forever on their knees.
Each believer struggles with our limitations, our humanity, our fallen nature, with what Scripture calls “the old man.” Scripture says…
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…. (from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Act I, Scene 3.)
We did it and we are to blame.
Christians are forever complaining about the increasing secularization of America. To listen to them in the year 2019 one would think the “old days”–say, some fifty years back–were the golden time of perennial revival.
The only problem is I lived through those days of the ’50s and 60s. I can tell you the preachers were constantly railing against the decline in religion, the weakening of the churches, the surrendering to the world.
There has never been a golden age of faith in this country or any other that I have heard of. Men have always loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. The narrow way is always trod by the few while “broad is the way that leads to destruction.”
Don’t be overly impressed–or too discouraged–by statistics and percentages showing the swings of church attendance, the number of Christians in Congress, and such.
The greatest mistake of the past generations of Christians in this country was trying to Christianize the culture without evangelizing the people. We put prayer in the schools, made the church the social life of the community, instituted blue laws so that no liquor could be sold on Sundays, and basically shut down secular life on the Lord’s Day. We protected the morality of the cities and towns. The citizens were no more Christian than previously, but we were making them behave like it.