In 1801, Kentucky was a frontier filled with mountain men, criminals and moonshiners. But in Cane Ridge, 18 ministers came together to pray, and invite God into their midst. He showed up.
The meeting was protracted for weeks. Ministers of almost all denominations flocked in from far and near. The meeting was kept up by night and day. Thousands heard of the mighty work, and came on foot, on horseback, in carriages and wagons. It was supposed that there were in attendance at times during the meeting from twelve to twenty-five thousand people. Hundreds fell prostrate under the mighty power of God, as men slain in battle.
In the “roaring 20’s” Los Angeles was hardly a religious center. With the rise of Marxism and the golden age of reason, it seemed Christianity was an antiquated device to keep the masses occupied.
Imagine in that atmosphere, if you were to have said in 1906, “a one eyed black man is going to rent a dingy horse livery on Azusa Street in downtown Los Angeles and start a movement that will engulf nearly 600 million people worldwide.” The men in white would have been sent for you.
Now look at today. We’ve got an elephant in the room. We complain about the “damn elephant” in the middle of the room but never really address how it got there, or why it’s still there.
Is it that America is losing money to China and Mexico? Is it that America is being taken advantage of by others who wish to live here, but don’t go through legal channels? Is it that one particular group of people is causing America to fail? Is it that radical Islamists are not-so-secretly plotting our demise?
Or is it something else?
Is it that prayer went from a common public expression, in government, business, and schools, to something we are now forced to utter privately, quietly, glancing around first so we don’t offend some atheist’s ears? Is it that schools have become a breeding ground for those who would indoctrinate our children to become skeptics on issues of faith and rabid believers in secular humanism? Is it that church has gone from the center of our spiritual social life to a social club on Sundays?
Is it that our country has gone from strong to weak, or that our country has gone from God to idol-worship?
The elephant in the room today is America’s complete and utter lack of humility. We have grasped onto our own greatness as our idol and our cause. We have let go of God and his principles. We have turned from the scorn of His son hanging on the cross, suffering the ultimate humiliation, to the pride of temples we’ve built with our hands.
As we’ve allowed our own pride to swell up, we see what others have and desire it. We see how still others have reaped but not sown, how some have taken the fruit of our own labor and squandered it on their own lustful desires. Where do wars and fights come from among us? Do they not come from our desires for pleasure that war in our members? Yes, they do.
In the Bible, James wrote (James 4:1-6):
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
James was writing to Christians (“My bretheren”). Do you see that trying to obtain power and peace at the same time is a losing battle? Because in obtaining the one, we sacrifice the other. We should instead strive to draw closer to God, who gives grace to the humble. James quoted Proverbs 3:34, “Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.”
Do we want to make America great again? Absolutely. Do we want to restore the rule of law, and decency, and self-determination? Absolutely. I want that also. But I suggest that those things are not obtained by might or power.
One of the most powerful books of the Old Testament is the nearly-hidden book of Zechariah. Chapter 7 states our problem clearly, “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear.” The solution is found in Chapter 3: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.”
One candidate among all the others stands out in his total rejection of humility in favor of strength. Anyone remotely familiar with the Bible would recognize this person as a God mocker, who seeks the favor of men rather than of God. Certainly, all political people try to persuade others of their worth, but it’s by the grace of God that a leader is given. It’s by our own folly that we choose a king.
By turning to a political slogan or savior to make America great again, we are making a grave mistake. The greatness we seek is not found at the ballot box. It is rather found at the altar, on our knees, shuddering before a mighty and sovereign God who gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud.
If we pray earnestly, He will show up, just as he did before.