“The people did what seemed right in their own eyes”
William Booth, who along with his wife Catherine, founded the Salvation Army in 1865 made this statement at the turn of the 20th century:
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”
At the time General Booth made this statement I’m sure he did not realize just how accurately it would depict the condition of America in the 21st century.
As I read and reread this statement the realization came to me that it may not be as much about what we are doing wrong in America as it is about what we are not doing right. Think about religion in America today. There is a great distortion that has happened to America’s piety. The problem is that what we call religion is just that – religion. Very little of America’s religion is true spirituality. Sadly our nation is filled with a theology that hides in “respectable” cathedrals. Yet that theology lacks any real power from God’s Spirit. I’m sure that if you randomly asked people if they are a Christian, the majority would tell you they are. However calling oneself a Christian does not necessarily mean they know Jesus Christ personally.
Then there is the subject of seeking forgiveness. How easily the words “I’m sorry” can roll off our tongues without any true repentance coming from our heart. One can be sorry they were caught sinning without any sorrow that they sinned. Shamefully many of our churches are filled with people who have walked the aisle, made some sort of a profession of faith in Christ, but yet lack a true experience of regeneration that makes them like Christ. And don’t even get me started on politics without God. We Americans have done a thorough job of removing Him from not only our government, but likewise our schools and our homes.
So while I’m on a roll here, please indulge me in adding one last thought. Think about how much we have watered down the biblical teaching about eternity. It saddens me to think how many people believe they are going to heaven simply because they are a good person. Don’t know if you have noticed, but I really don’t hear hell preached very much anymore. And have you ever observed that when things go wrong in our lives everyone wants to blame God? Yet I never hear anyone blame Satan. Do you? I suspect Lucifer is very pleased with the job he has done of transforming himself into a comic book character dressed in a red suit with a pitchfork in his hand that no one really pays much attention to – except perhaps Hollywood.
So I believe we who are true followers of Jesus Christ have one of two options in today’s America. We can either overwhelm ourselves in despair at the state of our nation. Or we can go forth every day in the power of the Holy Spirit…..and show our nation that we are different!