What Are We Coming To?

The slaying of the Jewish worshippers on this past Saturday in Pittsburgh, while they were praying in their synagogue, has greatly alarmed and awakened me to a terrible reality that we all would do well to heed. Some would say that though Dillon is not out of the way, it is certainly somewhat off the beaten path due to it being a small, rural community. However, true as that might be to some, we are neither isolated or insulated from the knowledge or influence and impact of certain major incidences that transpire in other parts of our nation.
The tragic slaying of the Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh has a bearing on all of us who are religious, regardless of whether we are Jewish, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, or etc. The emphasis of my column today is not about theology, doctrine or who is right or wrong in their beliefs. It is about our constitutional right to worship without being persecuted, intimidated, or murdered because of our faith. An attack on a group of people who have gathered to worship whether they are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or Christians is an attack on all of us who believe in the Constitution of the United States. When it comes to the right to worship, we all must stand together like Alexandre Dumas’ fictitious trio, The Three Musketeers, and be “all for one and one for all.” I want to briefly consider the following thought: What are we coming to? How in the world did our nation get into the fix that we are presently in? To be perfectly honest, we certainly did not get here overnight. It has taken many years and a few generations of apathy, arrogance, and an abandonment from the principles and values that made us great. There are a few cause and effect factors that I want to briefly consider that, in my opinion, have landed us (as a nation) in the fix that we are in today.
Since leadership is vital to the proper functioning and wellbeing of any corporate body, whether that collective group is a nation, a religions organization, a corporate five hundred company, a military division, or sports franchise, the good, as well as the bad, always starts at the top of the structure and flows down. From a political perspective, we are in the state that we are in because of partisan politics, divisiveness, and verbal conflict and insults that have created a climate of spite, animosity, and ultimately violence. When will our political leaders learn that there are deranged crackpots out there who can easily be incited to do some crazy, criminal, and violent acts when prompted by those in authority, especially those they admire, and even in some cases, idolize? I am not laying the blame on our President or any politician for the criminal and crazy acts of another. At the end of the day, each of us is responsible for our own motives and actions before God and man and will assuredly give an account. However, every leader must learn and realize that with authority comes responsibility. With great authority comes great responsibility. History proves that it was the rhetoric of Adolf Hitler, Hideki Tojo, and to a lesser degree, Benito Mussolini that was the impetus that triggered World War II and the death of fifty to eighty million people (when you consider the fatalities caused by famines and diseases).
Then, in my estimation, there is a cause and effect factor that stems from the apathy and cowardice of people in strategic and influential positions and places who will not use their influence and persuasion to oppose racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, white nationalism, black militancy, and all the other radical fringe groups that advocate hatred and violence. Perhaps the greatest cause and effect factor is (what I called in a message I once preached) “the silence of the lambs”. I find myself often referring back to these very prudent and relevant words of Edmund Burke when I am addressing a matter of indifference and even cowardice: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” I believe that in most, if not all, cases where we have had mass killings in houses of worship, schools, and other places and cities where people gathered there was someone who knew the person who was planning to commit such a brutal and flagrant act. These individuals had an inkling of what the person was contemplating and could have made a difference by talking to them.
What are we coming to? I believe our culture is being inundated with hatred and violence through the poisonous, rhetoric of people in high places and is about to reach a state of critical mass that may alter our nation in a negative and irremediable way.
There is a time bomb ticking that could explode at any time and only the prayers of the righteous and divine intervention can diffuse this bomb before it explodes. I said earlier that my aim today was not about theology, doctrine, or who is right or who is wrong. However, it is about assuring that we all have the constitutional right to assemble and worship in the sanctity and safety of our places of religious observance and veneration. In light of this, I can think of no other way that is more befitting to end today than by closing with a very appropriate verse found in 2 Chronicles 7:12-14: “Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.
Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all. For if I have boasted anything to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth.”