Saturday, August 27, 2011

Is God Punishing America?

"When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home."

Genesis 18:16-33

We love to focus on the negative aspects of American society. Abortion is rampant, divorces are rising, kids are getting into drugs, there is gang violence, corrupt politicians, pornography, murder, obscenity, blasphemy, slander and do not get me started on what people watch in movies.

When we are done lambasting society we turn to the Church. Doctrine is awful, the Bible is disregarded, clergy earn too much, this or that movement is a sign of the times, congregations are too big or too small, we do not give enough, tithing is unbiblical, we do not talk about sin, we do not show enough love and do not get me started on worship music.

It would seem that the USA is ripe for a little fire and brimstone. And every-time tornado season comes around that predictable vocal minority gleefully preach “God is judging America!” I shan't comment on the validity of this claim but I think we could all use a break from the USA painted by the aggressive pessimists. I will briefly encapsulate the America I see.

For every baby murdered there are a loving parents who worship God through tear filled eyes praising Him for the blessing of a child. There are even potential parents pleading with all they have for a baby, not a healthy baby, or a baby of their race, or even a baby from their genetic code, just a child that they can give their all to. For every divorce there are devoted spouses celebrating every wonderful day together. There are also struggling couples trying desperately to solve their problems and are often accompanied by those who went through the struggles and came out holding hands. For every kid getting into drugs there are parents willing to cut out their own heart only to save their child. Every kid in a gang has a counterpart in college, both have Grandmas praying for their souls. Every corrupt politician is disgraced only because their constituents believe morality is an essential quality in Leadership. Many young people grappling with porn have a parent or pastor who guide them from their temptation with non-judgmental love. We all ask what caused Seung-Hui Cho to murdered twenty-five people at Virginia Tech; but do we ask what caused Liviu Librescu, a holocaust survivor, to forcibly prevented Cho from entering the room by holding the door closed until most of his students escaped through the windows.  Librescu died after being shot multiple times through the door.

There are vile doctrines permeating from the Church and I know they are growing. But this is nothing new. I know many heretics but I know many people who go against the religion of their entire family in order to follow God in truth.  Some are putting down their Bibles and picking up their i-Phone but just around the corner there is a child bagging groceries to raise money for Bibles in China, there are designers who are bringing the Bible to the i-Phone, there are still people learning their favorite verses verbatim so they can turn to the Lord's promises in times of need. Affluent and impoverished alike find some obscure justification for a tightfisted approach to money but I have met the widows who go without food in order to send that extra $5 to the destitute. I know the unsung minority who hire surplus staff just so that person can have the dignity and resources to feed themselves. There are Pastors with exorbitant incomes but there are a humble few who live in trailers and pick up cans at the side of the road in order to pay rent and buy their kids a stick of gum.

God promised to save Sodom if there was a tiny population of good people, just a few, and Sodom would have been saved. Well guess what people...America is full of heroes of the faith. At times they are quiet, humble, unremarkable, or even socially unpresentable but God views their devotion. There are more than five or five thousand or even five million and they are all around. They are present and beautiful. Before we jump on the critical bandwagon remember the prayer of old that adjourns the Catholic Mass,

“Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your people.”
God Love You -- Rev. Sheen