When one does a comparison between the 17th and 20th centuries in regards to the goodness of humanity, one comes with two different views. The forefathers of this country had many noble ideals, but the goodness of humanity was not one of them. They believed that a country needed laws because humanity was evil and possessed evil tendencies. It is from them that we inherited the expression that we are a nation of laws. In the 20th century, a shift occurred. People started to talk about the goodness and the nobility of the human race. Even when evil stared us in our faces, we kept talking about the goodness of the human race.
The Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, writes about the condition of the human heart, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? I the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his way, and according to the fruit of his doing (Jeremiah 17:9-10 KJV).” As a student of history and as a pastor, I have seen desperate wickedness in the church and outside of the church. I came to conclusion that the major difference between those who know God and those who do not is that those who know God acknowledge their desperate wickedness and are willing to repent, ask forgiveness, and seek change in their lives.
It is in the desperate wickedness that the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is announced. Prophet Isaiah looked over the world and wrote these words, “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan – the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:1-2)” It is interesting to know that in the time of Jesus, the Roman Empire was doing well. They ruled the world and saw themselves as enlightened. Yet, the prophet saw a world conquered by utter darkness which needed the Light of God.
When we look at our country, we still cling to the idea that we are the best country in the world. We still believe that we have the best economy, the best military, the best universities, the best hospitals. While all these things could be true, there is also lots of darkness in those areas of our life. It is interesting to look at our history and find how much injustice was done in our railroad system against the Asians, similar to the injustice done to the Hispanics today who mow our lawns, do the dishes in restaurants, and work as roofers and burden bearers in construction. Prophet Malachi speaks “against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice… (Malachi 3:5b).”
Our morality in sexual matters has been moving in an accelerating downright spiral. While abortions in the country have slowed down, millions still occur annually, monogamous marriage is disregarded and ridiculed in almost every art form, from movies to literature, and those who do not accept homosexual marriage are declared homophobes and on the wrong side of history. However, in the words of Carmen LaBerge, “I am far less afraid of being on the wrong side of history, than being on the wrong side of a holy God.”
As the shadows darken and darkness gets deeper, let us unite in singing that old Christmas carol:
Come, Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set thy people free, from our fears and sins release, Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art. Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart. Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a king. Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal Spirit, Rule in all our hearts alone. By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.