Can you ever remember a time when the flag of the United States of America has flown at half-staff as much as it has in recent years?
The lowering of the flag used to mark the rare passing of a U.S. president. Most of the time the flag stood boldly, at the top of the pole, as a symbol of the enduring greatness of a nation with hope, freedom and liberty.
But, lately, it is not uncommon for it to be lowered multiple times during a week. Have you ever asked yourself why that might be? Have the standards for lowering the flag been changed? As the nation’s population increases — are there just more times where we need to grieve and pay our respects? Or, is there possibly another reason?
We’ve just passed Veterans Day, a day when we honor those who have protected our nation’s borders, ideals, freedoms and honor. It is only right that we do so. Romans 13:7 says, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” And we certainly owe honor and respect to those who have defended our nation.
But I fear that many of us have failed to realize that we are called on to defend our nation by living a righteous life. Now I know what some of you are thinking, “Who is to say what is right and what is wrong?” That’s actually a pretty good question. Others try to be more open, more “inclusive” by saying, “you believe what you want to believe and I’ll believe what I want to believe.” Is it any wonder that there is a pervasive philosophy which says, “anything and everything goes?” The problem with that philosophy is that it has been tried time and again and it historically proves to be the downfall of those who believe it.
The gracious God of the universe is long suffering. He is slow to anger, but that is not to say He will allow sinful behavior to go unchecked forever. Every single time the human race has gotten to the place where, “Everyone does right in their own eye …” God, the creator of the universe, the only one who can ultimately say what is right and what is wrong, eventually holds those accountable who stray from what He declares right and wrong.
Over the past few months one tragedy after another has hit our nation. The flag has been lowered and now every time it is lowered the words of Proverbs 14:34 come to mind: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
Recent tragedies have left our nation reeling. Natural disasters have rocked the south. Fires have caused great devastation in several regions. Our nation’s political climate is toxic. Terrorist attacks within our nation are becoming more and more commonplace. Radical terrorists have struck at our ships, at federal buildings, on 9-11, at the Boston Marathon, and most recently in New York. Some would have us to believe those terrorist are our main problem. There is no doubt that we must stay vigilant. But our main problem isn’t “radical Muslims.” Our main problem is human sinfulness.
Are radical Muslims plotting attacks against our nation? We would be foolish to think they wouldn’t be. Are there American citizens that are being radicalized and joining that movement? Many believe that is what happened with the shooting in Nevada. But a few Sundays ago there was a shooting at a Baptist church in Texas — reportedly a domestic violence issue, not a “terrorist” issue.
And there are myriad other things destroying our nation. There are greedy businessmen with their hands frequently in the cookie jar. There are entertainment personalities who live addictive, self-absorbed lifestyles who are promoted as the examples to follow. Men, women and children are being abused regularly in a plethora of ways. Political and entertainment figures are being accused regularly of abusing people. And we are slowly learning that small-town America is not immune. Drug abuse is running rampant in rural Idaho. Recently there have been home invasions, murders, robberies very close to Kuna.
There are rights and wrongs. They are laid out clearly in the Word of God and those rights and wrongs do not change regardless of what we want to believe as individuals, as a religious group, or even if laws are passed to approve what God disapproves. God alone is the arbiter of “right” and “wrong.” People can ignore God’s standards, religious groups can “reinterpret” God’s standards to fit what they believe, nations can pass laws contrary to God’s standards, and in fact the whole world can agree on something contrary to God’s Standards and the truth is that that still does not ultimately change what is right and wrong.
The words of Roman 1:18 tell us “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness …” Those words, along with those found in Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” go a long way to explaining why our nation is struggling and why our flag is being lowered more and more.
God, is angry at our sin. The sins of this nation are bringing the nation down. We have taken God out of everything. We have legalized the killing of the helpless unborn. Our nation’s highest court has approved what God clearly condemns. Sin is ruining our nation. It is bringing the United States of America to its knees.
Our only hope, as a nation and as individuals is to repent of our sinful ways and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Acts 3:19: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”