Another mass killing shocked America last weekend. A young man went on a premeditated and planned rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara. He stabbed to death three young men in his apartment, then shot two coeds at a nearby sorority house and another young man at a streetside deli. He also wounded 13 others before taking his own life.
The frantic calls for more gun control began immediately. But the alleged killer, Elliot Rodger, killed half of his victims with a knife instead of a gun. The point is, the tool of destruction is not as critical as the cause of destruction.
The FBI defines “mass killing” as those having at least four victims. From 1900 to 1960, when there were very few gun laws if any, there were 28 “mass killings” in the United States. From 1960 until today (54 years) with gun laws verging on draconian in some cities and states, there have been 130 “mass killings.” And this decade is on pace to be the worst ever.
What’s happening? Besides the near universal presence of psychotropic drugs and mental health issues in these episodes, what is happening is that we are witnessing the disintegration of our culture.
America is now largely a pagan society. Pagan societies are characterized by the worship of evil and its manifestation — Satan and his demonic minions. In popular music, video games, television programs, even theme parks, Satan and his influence (demons, witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves, zombies and the walking dead, monsters, over-the-top evil characters, and more) are standard fare. In fact, in the minds of many of our youth, the more gruesome and evil the better!
The Apostle Paul warned of these days. He said, “…in the last days perilous times will come.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Then he goes on to list a catalog of attitudes and attributes that could only have been culled from modern newspapers and daily television shows and radio reports. It’s not only uncannily accurate, it’s downright spooky the way Paul described America today.
And the rot isn’t found just among our entertainment-crazed youth. If anything, it’s more devious and just as destructive among our adults and leaders. Witness the scandal exploding within the Veterans Administration. I don’t need to detail for you the shocking revelations that have come our way the last few weeks or the obvious and frightening parallels with the onrushing Obamacare. The disgusting aspect of this callous and wanton mistreatment of our nation’s heroes is that much of it was perpetrated by bureaucrats to achieve cash performance bonuses or please their superiors — up to and including the President.
I fear that the corruption at the VA is merely a glimpse of the corruption running rampant in our government — at all levels — and throughout the business, academic, and entertainment worlds. I believe that one thing that has always defined the United States and made us exceptional is that we were largely a corruption-free society. In our everyday living, we don’t have to pay bribes to everyone who has authority over us. That’s not the case in many nations, even many of our allies.
But corruption manifests itself in many ways. And it always destroys the foundation that makes liberty, security, and prosperity possible in a nation. Integrity is that foundation. Liberty dies with corruption because when people are no longer trustworthy, they have to be watched more closely. But who watches the watchers?
Corruption, like a cancer, eventually kills the very body that gave it life. Proverbs 11:11 warns, “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.”
Though I was born as the Great Depression was setting in, most of my life has been lived in America’s halcyon days. Over my lifetime, the U.S. has endured many challenges and hardships, but it has also risen to become the greatest power the world has ever known. We have been blessed by God with success, prosperity, and freedoms that no other nation in history has ever enjoyed. And during my lifetime, I firmly believe America has been God’s blessing to the world. We have stopped forces of evil and secured liberty for untold millions. At times, we have virtually fed the world. America has been the world’s driving force for good in so many ways.
But America is something akin to the Land of Oz from Frank Baum’s classic tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” In that story, Oz was a strange, exotic, and wonderful place that seemed to promise more than it delivered. When all was revealed, the wonderful “Wizard of Oz” turned out to be a fraud, an illusion full of fire and smoke, but with no real power.
So, too, is America now. Once it was not only the most powerful nation on earth, but perhaps its most trustworthy. I believe that today it is only a shell of its former self. Fire and smoke with no real power. We’ve lost our focus on the things that are truly important. Our allies don’t trust us. Our enemies don’t fear us. Women and Christians can be repressed and persecuted around the world and we won’t utter a word of protest. But let a friend or foe fail to affirm the gay agenda and America will go to the mat to make it pay a price.
But this downfall is not just a result of politics, even ideology. I believe much of the blame lies squarely with the Church in America. The Book of Revelation describes seven churches that would have the dominant characteristics of the seven future stages of Church history. The seventh and final stage of Church history is that of the Church of Laodicea.
Jesus described it by saying, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot…. because you are lukewarm… I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I’m rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked….” (Revelation 3:15-17) Isn’t this a perfect description of today’s lukewarm Church? It isn’t cold enough to be easily identified as a false Church that has lost its fundamental purpose. And it is not hot enough to preach the Gospel and make disciples no matter the cost in persecution and sufferings for Christ’s sake.
We have forgotten that it is either all about Him or not at all about Him. We’ve sought to make Jesus a mere “feature” and not the driving force of our lives. We’ve remade God and the Gospel into a simple means to selfish ends — our own wealth and pleasure. Too many have made prayer something we do when we’re in trouble, or when we’re buying lottery tickets. Fellow Christians are suffering and dying around the world and we fill our minds and mouths with the latest news about people we don’t even know.
The modern church is miles wide and inches deep. We try to convince the world that they should accept us because we are like them, not because we have the Answer or because we stand for something greater. America can only change when the American Church changes, not before.