Saturday, February 17, 2018

What has happened to our hearts?

A tear escapes my eye and runs down my cheek onto my pillow. It’s 3:30 in the morning.  I had awakened to get a drink of water. As I lay back down, my thoughts replaced my sleep with sadness.  Actually, it’s more than that.  It’s heartache. In the last few years, I’ve watched as our world has slowly started to fall apart. People have become mean, hateful, and angry to the point of killing other people. I can’t help but feel cynical about our future because the news is full of stories of hate, child neglect, pornography, drug addiction, and murder. Children are killing other children for reasons that only used to cause a disagreement. We have seen examples of this. When a teen girl and boy “break up,” the disgruntled teen doesn’t cope with the situation by rising above, seeing that the relationship was toxic, and moving on to better things in his or her life. Instead, he or she gets a gun and kills someone. Many kids and adults today have no ability to cope with conflict. How did this happen? We’ve seen recent examples of this where kids or adults haven’t been able to address and defeat bullying or hurtful situations. Their solution has been to commit suicide, hurt someone, or kill someone. 

In just the last month, I have read news stories about home invasions where murders have been committed during a robbery; a mother who killed her five-month old baby; a mother who purposely parked her car in front of an oncoming train in order to kill her children who were inside the car; multiple child pornography arrests; a foster dad who killed his foster child; drug addicts who endangered and neglected their own children by exposing them to danger, drugs, and no parenting; a mother who was beaten just outside her home while her four-year old daughter was kidnapped; children who have shot and killed other children with guns; and the list goes on and on. There are so many more, gut-wrenching and unnecessary killings. It’s overwhelming. 

Why is the value of life declining so rapidly in people’s minds? When we are born, and as we grow up into young people, it is the responsibility of parents and other adults to be present for children and teach them right from wrong. Where are these responsible, effective parents and adults? 

There is a moral code that works well, and it’s ancient. The code comes from a book that was written so long ago, yet it has stood the test of time. But that moral code is no longer being taught or even recognized in many parts of our society. People want to remove God and His Word, the Bible, His effective moral code, from our government and our schools. So this is what we get. We remove teaching of right from wrong, effective and present parents, prayer to God who is able to intervene, and fear of effective consequences, and this is the inevitable result. We get a society where wickedness and evil run chaotically through our streets. We get to live in fear of being harmed at a concert, at church, at the grocery store, or at school. 

When God created us, He gave us the choice to love Him, obey His laws, which keep us safe, and to choose right over wrong. He does not force us to listen to Him, and many do not. The consequences of not living by His laws and commandments, again, given to us to protect us and let us live in harmony, are apparent in our world today. Just look at some of the commandments He gave us. They are simple, yet when followed, are so effective. Don’t steal, don’t covet, honor your father and mother, don’t murder, and only worship God and no other gods (anything on this earth, i.e., wealth, pride, powerful positions, other relationships, etc).  God gave us these simple commandments in order to keep us safe and to keep us from giving in to the evil of hurting each other. 

In Deuteronomy 4:2, God refers to the Ten Commandments and says, “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.” Verses 6 and 7 say, “Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” Verses 9 and 10 add an important warning, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

Our society is catapulting rapidly into a futuristic science fiction movie. It’s becoming that movie where the apocalypse is the impending doom, where people have turned against people, where communities have failed, and where truth and moral code no longer have an effect. Have you seen enough wickedness yet, because I know I have. God did not mean for us to live like this.  Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted quite often because it tells us what God really wants for us. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God really loves us and wants good for us. The thing is, we cannot reject Him. Imagine trying to have a relationship with someone, but you decide that you don’t want to talk to that person, interact with that person, or listen to anything that person says to you. In addition, the friend code between you where you honor and respect each other is removed. There is no code, no law that governs the way you treat each other, and you can’t talk to each other. By definition, no relationship can exist in those conditions. This is what is happening in our society. Relationships are breaking down. 

We can’t reject God’s moral code, The Bible. We need to pray. Prayer is not a formality or a prayer book or a religious code.  It’s a conversation with God. It’s talking to God.  Imagine reinstating that code to our society and living by it. Imagine what that would look like. Do you want to see less of these evils? Me too, and it starts with each one of us. We have to commit to being effective parents and adults.  We have to teach our children God’s moral code. We have to set an example and live by it. Relationship with God, like any other relationship, takes effort. We have to set some time aside to be with Him. We have to talk to Him — to pray. We have to read the moral code book He gave us, the Bible, and write those words on our heart so that we can live by them. Our children watch us and learn from us, even when we don’t think they are paying attention. My challenge to us is that we start living an example of what we want other people to be. This is not an easy task, but it’s worth a self-evaluation.  We all make mistakes, but what matters is that we get back on track no matter what. God loves us and wants the best for us, just as He said in Jeremiah. Those words are for all of us.  

As cynical as this world makes me feel sometimes, I take comfort in the fact that ultimately, no matter what happens in our world, God will overcome the wickedness, in His timing. He has promised this to us. Revelation 22:12 says, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Verses 14 and 15 say, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Perhaps that sounds simplistic, but I take comfort in knowing that God will ultimately bring justice. He has given us a simple and effective moral code to live by.  The question I leave all of us with is this: “What change can we each make that will help to reinstate moral code and goodness back into our world?” Everyone of us shares this responsibility by living out our own lives with goodness, doing what is right according to God’s moral code, and loving each other. 

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