My first sermon was in an established downtown church. I think there was probably close to two hundred people. My sermon was titled, The Family that Forgot God. This was back in 1984 I believe.
Thirty-six years have passed and the world has changed so drastically since then. The division and hatred weren’t so strong then. We argued fiercely about politics, religion, and human rights but we didn’t burn down neighborhoods or attack each other. I don’t even think we cancelled anyone back then. We may have hated but we put up with each other.
And somethings are still the same. Back in the Eighties, we had a recession. Interest rates skyrocketed. People lost their jobs and their homes. Society in North America became even more divided especially between the rich and the not so rich.
The biggest thing that is the same is our need for God. God never changes. Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” In a world in which change is rapid and destructive, we need something that is constant and solid. One minute, our life works for us. In the next minute, we are forced to hide in our homes and can’t even buy toilet paper. Our neighbors become our enemies and if we don’t bow down to the mob mentality our livelihood and our very lives are in danger.
This is scary.
And just like during the time of my first sermon, we are forgetting the one thing that can save us all and the one thing that is the only true constant in our lifetimes. We forget God.
We forget God when we look to our earthly leaders to protect us or to guide us through these changes. When we call our Presidents and Prime Ministers saviors. When we put our faith in the World Health Organization, or the United Nations to have our best interest in mind when they separate us and prevent community. There is no human or human led organization that is in control of the events of today. No amount of legislation or policies are going to stop the hatred or the division.
Because these things are spiritual.
I often reflect on the great tragedies of the Holocaust and the Holodomor (Ukrainian genocide). How could the average German be so blind and so compliant as to go along with the attempted extinction of the Jews? How could Russian forces be so evil as to literally starve millions of Ukrainian families to death? It is because evil deceives and blinds. Ordinary people can be taught to hate and distrust one another by blinded and deceived leaders. I am not talking about evil leaders here. I am talking about ordinary leaders and ordinary men and women who are deceived by the darkness of this world.
Our enemy, the devil, is powerful and cunning. His purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy according to John 10:10. He is very good at his job. He had great success in Hitler’s Germany. He had great success in Stalin’s Russia. And he has great success in America and the world today.
Governments may make the rules but they are spiritually influenced as they do so. It is as if the spiritual darkness first covers them and then oozes out over the influencers of society and finally rests in the hearts and minds of the citizens. Sometimes slowly, other times rapidly, we begin to change our beliefs. The rock upon which we once stood is replaced by the sand of public peer pressure and the hegemonic influence of the media. Pretty soon what once was good and right is bad and wrong.
God used to be good. He still is good, very good, but the current cultural deception paints him as bad. At least the God of the Bible. False gods of permission and entitlement are embraced. Idols and false gospels of feeling good and humanistic self-help are sought after. People no longer have time for God. We are too busy scurrying around trying to get by in a frightening world.
Satan has us right where he wants us.
This should make us mad enough to seek God out. To find out who God really is and how we can learn to love him and one another once more. Let’s lift up our eyes to the hills and see where our help comes from. Our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121 1-2).
Andy Becker is a pastor, retired counsellor and former CEO of a Hospice organization. Currently, his wife, Stella and Andy, lead both Lighthouse ministries and Bread of Life ministries in North Central Regina, one of Canada’s poorest and roughest neighborhoods. His book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.