The world is a mess. When nearly 4 out of 10 people reject the concept of absolute truth you end up with a nation defined by committee. Fred Allen once described a committee as
“a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary.” Most folks are familiar with Alec Issigonis’s comment that a camel is a horse designed by committee.
Once folks believe they have the power to define truth, justice, and set the divide between good and evil, you’re at the city limits of Chaos. People passionately deny standards, insisting that everyone be tolerant of everyone else—as long as they are Committee Chair with total veto power. Today, every committee has more chairs than members. Few agree with one another and demand the right to say what is true and what isn’t “true for me.”
Every Man A King
Every person insists that he or she is wise enough and has the right to stand in judgment over everyone else, including God. What people resent most about God is that He establishes standards and claims sole power to determine what is true, right, and well, what is.
The human battle to be King of the Hill began in Genesis 3 and continues today. There’s a chapter in my 2016 book, Fifteen Minutes Into Eternity—The War Between The Human Spirit and The Holy Spirit, entitled “The Rise and Fall of the United States.” What do you think, is the USA rising or falling today?
Nations Rise or Fall Because of People
No matter what folks believe, people haven’t changed since Adam and Eve were booted from the Garden of Eden. We may dress differently and understand physics more than the Romans of 476 AD or 9th century Mayans, but we’re still tempted in the same ways they were, which is why the 8 Stages of Civilization identified by Scottish philosopher Alexander Tyler (1747-1813) apply to eras before and after his time.
One of the first words children learn is, “Mine.” Possession and selfishness appear to be cooked into our DNA. Children must learn to share, to wait, to let others speak, and that sometimes the best option is giving a friend the bigger half of the cookie.
Nations rise when someone’s courage becomes contagious. Nations falls when opinion becomes the national god. I find Professor Tyler’s perspective about the stages of civilization so powerful that I want to share it with you.
How Civilizations Become Great or Fall Into Ruin
Civilizations experience predictable cycles in much the same way that babies grow into adults, unless they pass away from catastrophic circumstance.
The average major civilization lasts about 200 years. In case you haven’t done the math recently, the United States Constitution has been the law of this land for 234 years.
The 8 Stages of Civilization
From Bondage to Spiritual Growth
From Spiritual Growth to Great Courage
From Great Courage to Liberty
From Liberty to Abundance
From Abundance to Complacency
From Complacency to Apathy
From Apathy to Dependence
From Dependence back to Bondage
The Bad News About The State Of The United States
The future of any nation depends on what it’s people do NOW to prevent the cycle from moving from Liberty or Abundance to something less or empowering the cycle to move from Bondage to Spiritual Growth.
Great Courage requires the commitment of “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to a bigger vision. Today, such commitment appears to be in short supply.
In the absence of national revival, the latter stages of the cycle will grind forward.
The Good News—There’s Power Above Politics
But, there’s always good news for those who love and obey Jesus Christ. Even on the brink of destruction, God proves himself willing to stop the clock when His people call on Him and repent.
“Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years.“— 2 Kings 20:5-6
In another example found in Joshua 10:12-13, God stopped the sun and moon from moving until Joshua defeated his enemies.
No matter what the near future holds for our/your nation, both your today and your eternity are safe with the Lord Jesus Christ. The question facing us today is, “What are we willing to commit as stewards over what the Master expects us to manage until His return?”
Are we good and faithful servants or wicked and lazy ones? (The Parable of the Talents.)
Freedom Is A Team Sport
My husband gets exasperated when football players go outside the lane of their position and screw up a play. Players miss blocks, allowing the opponent to press forward because the wandering players trespassed someone else’s territory.
My freedom ends where yours begins.
That’s one of two gems of wisdom my Mother taught me. The other is that I am the only one responsible for the degree to which I succeed or fail.
My freedom to play raucous music all night, every night, bumps up against your right to peaceful sleep. If we both claim complete authority to set the rules, what happens?
The only way to preserve a nation bordering on chaos is to return to playing by one set of rules. In other words, law. To do what we did at the beginning that transformed Bondage into Liberty.
What Will It Take To Retain/Retake Liberty?
Courage and Stewardship.
Liberty requires great courage and biblical stewardship. Great Courage is always the product of a Great Why. Your Why defines your motivation. The greater your why the more you’re willing to invest or risk.
The founders of the United States pledged everything they had because they knew that certain rights are given by God. To reclaim those rights from King George, each man pledged his life, fortune, and sacred honor, in a time when honor was a requirement for any man who hoped to sleep well.
For followers of Jesus Christ, the Why is stewardship. If you want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”, you must be a good steward of everything the Master left with us to manage and invest on His behalf until He returns.
Biblical Stewardship Determines Your Eternity
Who gave you life, liberty, and fortune, however great or small?
Who owns everything?
Who has the power to give and take?
Liberty is something Jesus expects us to invest. Truth is not arbitrary. Truth is a law in the same way that gravity is a law because they always apply, regardless of someone’s agreement.
How well you invest what you’ve been given will determine what words you hear when you meet Jesus face-to-face. Will it be “Well done” or “Depart from Me?”
Reason For Hope
Most people believe that the entirety of great western civilization is nearing the end of the civilization cycle. Perhaps, but there is reason for hope.
Elijah, the widow, and her son lived for years on one portion of flour and oil. Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.”
We’re still here and the Father expects us to be about His business. Professor Tyler’s list not only illustrates the cycle, but also provides the blueprint for strengthening or weakening our nation.
Let’s invest whatever we have today and pray for God to bring the increase of Courage and Spiritual Growth.