George Floyd: Can America Survive?

Today I am preaching with a very heavy heart because if you look around America it is all confusion, chaos, destruction, disorder and death. We are seeing so much violence in our streets, so much looting and so much destruction. We wonder, ‘Can America survive?’. So, I entitled my message, ‘Can America survive?’ Can America survive? On the one hand, we are going through a natural disaster called Covid Pandemic. It has already killed over 100,000 people. Our very survival is threatened. We have economic anxiety, unemployment has skyrocketed, one in four American workers has applied for unemployment benefits. 

    On the other hand, we are seeing a society in free fall. Most of the news is about violence. In some places, heavily armed lockdown protesters are storming government buildings. In Michigan, the legislators were terrified even to gather to perform their constitutional duties.In Minneapolis, we have seen a police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man named George Floyd. As the officer kept pressing into his neck, Mr.Floyd was screaming and crying in pain

“I can’t breathe, Your knee’s in my neck…..I can’t breathe, 

…..mama, mama….. my stomach hurt,

 my neck hurt, everything hurts….. 

water or something…..Please, Please. I can’t breathe”

Those heart wrenching words shook all of us.Anyone with conscience would sympathize with George Floyd. Protesters poured into the streets,and demanded justice. Whenever we see evil, we should protest, but we should protest peacefully.  Then the peaceful demonstrations turned into riots and lootings. Now, many cities are under curfew. 

National guard reserves are patrolling streets. The family of George Floyd went to the memorial site and they spent some time in prayer. For 10 minutes there was silence while they were praying to God. But the rioters are not doing any prayers. They attacked St.John’s Episcopal Church in Washington DC. This church has been the symbol of freedom. 

The bell in its tower was cast by Paul Revere, one of the men closely identified with the establishment of American liberty.Instead of praying for God’s help, these rioters attacked this church. 

      Obviously they hate God, they hate Bible, they hate Christian faith. I felt very sad because when I visit Washington DC, I spend some time in prayer, often standing right in front of St.John’s Episcopal. That has been the church of the Presidents from James Madison to Donald Trump. It was there President Lincoln was praying for America during the Civil War. It was there President Roosevelt was praying for America during Second World War. It was there President Ford was praying for America after the Watergate scandal. 

     These are heartbreaking scenes to watch because we love America. We tend to ask, Is there any hope for America? Is there a chance for peace? Is there a chance for unity? the whole world is watching America in dismay. The Pilgrim fathers came to  America with a great vision. They wanted to set an example for the rest of the world. In 1630, future governor John Winthrop said, ‘We shall be a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us’. We shall be a city upon a hill. John Winthrop got that phrase from the New Testament. In Matthew 5:14, our blessed Savior Jesus said, 

‘You are the light of the world, 

a city built on a hill cannot be hidden’.

     You are the light of the world. We can be the light of the world only when the light of Jesus shines upon us. We can be the light of the world only when the light of God shines upon us. We can be the light of the world only when the light of the Bible shines upon us. But today’s America does not want God, it does not want our blessed Savior, it does not want the Bible. It is celebrating ‘dechristianization of America’, our secular leaders are celebrating ‘Post-Christian America’. Well, this is how Post-Christian America looks like. 

G.K.Chesterton said, ‘When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in everything’. We are so fragmented because we don’t have a unifying worldview, we don’t have a coherent worldview. For four hundred years, America lived by the Christian worldview. There is a God, He created us in His image, He spoke us through the Bible, He came to this world as Jesus to save us from our sins. That has been the unifying core belief of America. Today, more and more people are leaving these beliefs. Splintered groups are sprouting up everywhere because there are so many ideologies and isms. When God leaves the town, all hell breaks loose.

     Ravi Zacharias used to quote Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher. He was an atheist.  Nietzsche once  said, ‘If in the 19th century we find out God is dead then two things will happen in the 20th century. first, the 20th century would become the bloodiest, most catastrophically destructive century in history, and second, a universal madness would break out and turn the West upside-down.

    When Europe chose secularism, Nietzsche saw the consequences of abandoning the God of the Bible. He warned Europe, after the death of God there would be so much violence and chaos. America today sadly walking in the steps of secular Europe. God gave us His Word. He gave us objective moral values to live by. When we abandon God, we create our own morality. I often think of a verse in the Old Testament. It is from the Book of Judges chapter 21, verse 25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Those words apply to our society today. Everyone is doing what is right in his or her own eyes. They do not have a moral reference frame. They do not have an external moral guide. Without a common moral frame, how can we even say what is right and what is wrong? 

If we want to survive as a nation, we should get back to God, we should get back to our Lord Jesus Christ. America was built upon biblical principles. It’s founding ethic was, as written in the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

   Please note those words: all men are created. Creationism is now outdated and removed from our schools and public consciousness. But without creationism, we cannot have any human rights, without creationism we cannot have any civil rights, without creationism we cannot have equality, liberty or freedom. Our entire criminal justice system will fall apart without creationism. If we are just evolved human animals, we have no obligation to treat anyone with equality and fairness. Creationism was the foundation for the declaration of independence, because God created us in his own image. Our dignity, our worth, our value, our liberty, our freedom, our rationality, our individuality, our rights they all came to us from that fundamental belief that we are all created equal by one God in His own image. If we abandon that belief, moral relativism creeps into every crevice of our existence. Without God, we cannot even condemn racism because if you believe in equality, that is your belief if your neighbor believes in inequality, that is his belief, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. You cannot judge any racist because without an external moral reference frame, you cannot judge any one.

    That is why we should come back to our Creator and Savior Lord Jesus Christ. The White House was attacked. The President of the United States had to move to a bunker when his own people tried to break the wall. It’s French Revolution is coming back. Our politicians are ready to guillotine their rivals. The anarchists don’t even believe in the government. Government is an institution established by God. Romans 13 clearly informs us that we should respect our government. But when you don’t believe in the Bible, you can pick up anarchism as your ideology and government loses its legitimacy in your eyes. The Bible teaches that we are accountable to God. The government is accountable to God. The law enforcement officers should see every human being as created in the image of God. Every defendant should be treated with respect, dignity and love. The protestors who are looting stores and engaging in violence should remember that God will hold them accountable for their actions. God told us in the Ten Commandments, ‘Thou shalt not steal’. Looting a store is nothing but stealing. 

How can we survive as a nation? 

We need a national revival. We need spiritual transformation. Progress does not come without spiritual transformation. If you doubt my words, look into American history. Consider Second Great Awakening. It happened 200 years ago, as the gospel of Christ was preached across America, there was a national revival. The preachers of this Awakening emphasized salvation for all who put their faith in Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is available for all: this democratization of Christianity led to the democratization of civic life. 

    Charles G.Finney was preaching tirelessly to the masses. People were turning to Christ in repentance and then going out to reform their neighborhoods.First came the salvation of the  soul, then came edification of the body; First  came the recognition of sin, then came the movements of reform ; First came repentance of sin, then came the progress in society 

Out of Second Great Awakening many social reform movements were born:   During the Second Great Awakening, a distinct Christian America was born. 

Three factors played a role in this transformation.
1. Revival 

2. Millennial expectation and
3. Virtue. 

  1. Revival: Don’t keep your faith to your head. Fill your heart with faith. Live with passion. 
  2. Millennial expectation: They thought, When Jesus comes back and establishes his 1000 year reign, there will be a perfect human society. We don’t have to sit back and leave our society as it is. We can reform our neighborhoods as a foretaste of Jesus’ millennial kingdom. We are looking for the second coming of our Lord. 
  3. Virtue: They also emphasized virtue. Believe in Jesus, repent your sin, and embrace virtue. Today we have completely abandoned the concept of virtue. We’ve lost the concept of virtue

Care for the Poor: During Second Great Awakening, Christians increased their charitable work for the poor. Charles Finney rebuked Wall Street. He shouted at the greedy businessmen, With all the greed for money and worldly possessions, you are ignoring your soul. Repent and get saved. Spend your money for the poor. 

Abolitionism: Second Great Awakening  called for immediate and total abolition of slavery. Prior to the Second Great Awakening, antislavery movements were working for resettlement of slaves in Africa and gradual emancipation. Charles Finney and others did not agree with resettlements. They treated slaveholding as a mortal sin. They confronted slave masters, ‘If you want to be saved, you should not hold any slaves’. ‘If you want to go to heaven, free your slaves’ 

     Today we have violent organizations like Antifa fighting against racism and inequality. They will never achieve those goals through violence. They should look back and see what happened during the Second Great Awakening. Racism was treated as a sin, a moral problem. Unless we recognize that racism is a sin that must be subdued through the spirit of Christ, we will never be able to conquer it. Our media is going insane. ESPN recently pulled one of its announcers. What is his crime? His name is Robert Lee. I am afraid soon they will deny people with names like Washington and Jefferson.

     Rioting, looting and destroying property will never end racism. Martin Luther King Jr fought non-violently during his civil rights movement. They were protesting and singing, ‘We shall overcome. Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day. When Martin Luther King Jr was walking, people stood behind him singing, 

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

 that saved a wretch like me, 

I once was lost, but now am found, 

was blind, but now I see 

   There is a spiritual blindness formed a big dark cloud all over America. We need the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who said I am the light of the world. In the college campuses we often hear, ‘Stand up and admit you are a racist’. It should be, ‘Stand up and admit you are a sinner who needs salvation’. Stand up and admit you are a sinner who needs the Word of God. Stand up and admit you are a blind person who need the light of Christ’. 

Women’s rights: 

We have a Christian singer Jon Steingard who left Christian faith this week. His complaint was Christianity oppresses women. He should read Christianity. Finney’s teachings specifically appealed to women. The first women’s rights movements in the United States came from the Second Great Awakening.Men and women are created equally in the image of God. No other religion, or atheism can provide a logical basis for women’s rights. Secular feminists in our time completely rejected God. They are using violent language like Madonna who said, ‘I want to blow up the White House’. They should look back and learn from women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Julia Ward Howe who took their inspiration from Christian principles. 

Julia Ward Howe: Her life was between 1819 to 1910. She worked for women’s rights and abolition of slavery. She wrote the famous song, ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’. 

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies 

Christ  was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom

 that transfigures you and me.

As He died to make men holy,

 let us die to make men free

While God is marching on.

You can see the spirit of Second Great Awakening in that song. In the beauty of the lilies Christ  was born across the sea, With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me

See the beauty of Christ, See the glory of Christ. Let that beauty transform you and me 

Let that glory transform you and me. 

As He died to make men holy,

 let us die to make men free

While God is marching on.

You see, holiness and freedom go together. As Jesus died to make men holy, let us die to make men free. Just as Jesus sacrificed for us, let us sacrifice for others. Christian Faith brought such radical  change.  But our generation chose Marxism. Marxist violence is not going to achieve racial equality and women’s rights. We need Christian grace and sacrifice. 

Education:The Second Great Awakening brought reforms in public education. Children were taught to fear God and to respect human life.  Horace Mann fought for public education for all. He insisted on Bible teaching and family values. Soon America was building a world class public education system. Today our public schools and colleges are a big mess because we abolished  Bible teaching and abandoned eternal values. Atheism, Darwinism and moral relativism became the main themes of modern public education. 

We are teaching our kids that they are just evolved animals. They are just walking, talking animals. Nothing is sacred, nothing is holy, nothing is precious. Then we are giving them a drill on how to protect themselves in the event of a school shooting. There is no place for God in their heads. 

Gone are the days when they open their school day with a prayer and Bible study. 

Gone are the days when they were taught, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

Gone are the days when they were taught that every human being is created in the image of God. 

Gone are the days when they were taught that human body is sacred, sexuality is sacred 

Gone are the days when they were taught that one day they will have to give an account of their lives to their Creator. 

We are not hearing about school shootings for the last two months because schools have been closed due to the Pandemic. 

Prison Reform: During the Second Great Awakening, Lewis Dwight fought for prison reform: 

Don’t just put criminals behind  the bars, try to reform them. Try to evangelize them, try to educate them. Soon prison reforms were in place all across America. People were turning to God even in prisons. Today our prisons became breeding grounds for future terrorists. 

Healthcare : Those days mentally sick persons were confined to atrocious conditions. Dorothea Dix, she worked on the care of the mentally ill people.

Temperance: The most important reform movement that came out of the Second Great Awakening was the Temperance movement. In 1830s alcoholism became a major problem in America. The consumption per person was three times what it is today. Think about that, two hundred years ago, people were consuming three times as much alcohol as they are drinking today. Alcohol was destroying families, marriages, and economic growth. Countless widows and orphans were sprouting up due to alcohol related deaths. The Second Great Awakening changed all of that. People found meaning and purpose in God and voluntarily abandoned alcohol. They destroyed alcohol containers and bottles in the streets. Alcoholic Anonymous was born during this time. They wrote down the Twelve Traditions as their guidelines. Second

 Tradition states, ‘For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience’. Without a loving God who expresses Himself in our conscience, how are we going to battle these deadly addictions?

      Today we have an opioid epidemic wreaking havoc across America. This epidemic is destroying precious lives of young men and women in our time. Our leaders are spending billions of dollars to combat illicit drug trade. The Second Great Awakening has a valuable lesson for us: First we should fill our lives with God and His Spirit, then comes temperance. A clean spirit precedes a clean body. 

People who say, ‘Keep God away from Politics’ should realize that the Second Great Awakening brought a lot of political and cultural changes in America. 

Conclusion: 

So, today as we go through unprecedented turmoil, I wanted to remind you that there is hope for us in God. Living in the 21st century, we do not appreciate the impact of First and Second Great Awakenings on America. But I wanted to tell you about Second Great Awakening today because God did great things in America during that revival. 

Alexis de Tocqueville was visiting the United States in the midst of the Second Great Awakening. In his famous book Democracy  in America he wrote, “There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America; and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth” 

Please note those words: “There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America; and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth” 

Can America survive? 

It can only survive if it comes back to God. It can only survive if it comes back to our blessed Savior Lord Jesus Christ. George Floyd’s family is seen praying at the site of his memorial. That is what we need today. We need to pray for healing. We need to come to Jesus, confess our sins, accept him as our Lord and Savior. 

Gospel 

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, we pray for your grace and mercy on us. We repent for neglecting your Word. We pray that you forgive our sins. We pray that you anoint us with your Word and Spirit. We pray that you move the hearts of men and women in our time to see you and accept you as their Lord and Savior. We pray that you bless America with unity and love. In your mighty and wonderful name we pray, Amen. 

References 

Democracy in America – Vol. I. and II.

By Alexis de Tocqueville

Jonathan Edwards

By Perry Miller

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/19/politics/kfile-roy-moore-asked-for/index.html

The Life and Travels of George Whitefield, M. A.

By James Paterson Gledstone

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