By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Eighteen years ago today, the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (now Tennessee Baptist Mission Board) was preparing for its September meeting. Before it started, however, news of the terrorist attacks on Washington, D.C. and New York City began to spread.
People stood around a television set in the building and watched the horror unfold.
Then TBC executive director James Porch observed that “our world, our state, your hometown and mine have changed. It will never be the same again.” Describing the events of the day as “this generation’s Pearl Harbor,” Porch asked, “Can this nation become one under God? I hope that we will.” And, for a very brief time, we did.
Board members, subdued by the tragedy, prayed for our country. Before the day was over, untold millions of people were praying for the United States.
I wrote these words in an editorial the following week in the Sept. 19 issue of the paper: “I cannot recall in my lifetime the numerous references made by the secular media and government leaders about trusting in God and praying for our country. I don’t remember ever seeing so many people from all walks of life join in prayer gatherings all across this country.
“Americans are beginning to see, perhaps some for the first time, that the only hope America has is in God. My prayer is that this ‘awakening’ will last.”
Eighteen years later, it’s easy to see that the awakening did not last. In fact, it didn’t take long for America to drift once again from God. We’re at the point that I believe we are further from God than we were back in the days preceding 9/11.
The evidence in support of my hypothesis is overwhelming. Opiod use in America is at crisis level, racism (all races included) is rampant (see column by Chris Turner here), it’s legal for men to marry men and women to marry women, New York governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year signed abortion legislation which would allow babies to be aborted (murdered) at birth. The list goes on. America is in a mess.
We should never have returned to this point in our history. When will people seriously look at the past and try not to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over?
For Christians, it should be easy. We have Scripture to prove it. Read the account of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. They spent decades in the wilderness, not because they got lost, but because they questioned God time and time again.
Read through the Old Testament. Judges 13:1 records, “The Israelites again did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines for 40 years.” In I Kings there is more than one reference to kings who “did what was evil in the Lord’s sight more than all who were before him.” Since the beginning of time, mankind continues to repeat the same sins over and over.
God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their immorality and sin. Why our country still exists today can only be attributed to God’s grace and mercy. We, as a nation, have done absolutely nothing to deserve it. I can’t imagine how Sodom and Gomorrah was more wicked than many of the cities in the United States today. Yet, so far, God has spared us.
As a nation, we are taking a huge risk in continuing to live as we are, forsaking good for evil. It’s only a matter of time when God will pour His judgement upon us. I pray that Christians and churches will lead the effort to turn the tide. God is our only hope. B&R