Givers and Takers

In November 1980, Ronald Wilson Reagan became the oldest man ever elected to the office of president of the United States. He brought to the White House experience garnered in two successful terms as governor of California. Within minutes after Reagan took the oath of office in January 1981, all 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days by the tyrannical Islamic government were released.

During his eight years in office, President Reagan rebuilt the military, won the Cold War with the Soviet Union, resuscitated American patriotism, and certified recognition and respect for American exceptionalism before the world.

But the most significant aspect of Reagan’s tenure was his understanding that faith occupied an important place in the life of the nation. For years he advocated for the right to pray in our classrooms. Perhaps the following quotation best summarizes his view of the importance of God and the Bible in public life:

My experience in this office I hold has only deepened a belief I’ve held for many years: Within the covers of that single Book are all the answers to all the problems that face us today if we’d only read and believe.1

Though some may question Reagan’s commitment to the Christian faith in which he was reared, his statements are a far cry from what American officials dispense today.

One of President Reagan’s most revealing comments was contained in his famous Evil Empire Speech, given at the National Association of Evangelicals convention on March 8, 1983:

A number of years ago, I heard a young father, a very prominent young man in the entertainment world, addressing a tremendous gathering in California. It was during the time of the cold war, and communism and our own way of life were very much on people’s minds. And he was speaking to that subject. And suddenly, though, I heard him saying, “I love my little girls more than anything…[but] I would rather see my little girls die now, still believing in God, than have them grow up under communism and one day die no longer believing in God.” 2

At issue was the Communist-Russian conspiracy to establish a completely godless, totalitarian world that would wipe out Christianity and all Judeo-Christian values. Beyond the conclaves, political clashes, theoretical debates, and international intrigues of the time, the inescapable bottom line was articulated by the young man who preferred to see his little girls die “still believing in God, than have them grow up under communism and one day die no longer believing in God.”

As a political system, Soviet Communism collapsed largely due to Ronald Reagan’s unbending opposition and American military capacity. Unfortunately, however, the campaign to purge God from the planet did not collapse. That campaign continues in another guise. The war (and that is the correct term) on Christianity in America is being waged from the courts to the kindergartens.

The War on Christmas
Christmas 2013 was tagged as “the war on Christmas.” Advocates of atheism, in and out of government, evidently saw an opportunity to build on recent radical minority successes to rev up attacks on commemorations of the birth of Christ.

Among the hundreds of incidents that could be cited, perhaps the most egregious was the Veterans Administration’s (VA’s) decision on the distribution of Christmas cards to bedridden veterans at a hospital in Dallas, Texas.

Prosper, Texas, math teacher Susan Chapman, wife of a veteran and volunteer at various veterans’ organizations, thought it a good idea to encourage 52 students at the Grace Academy to make Christmas cards to hand deliver to the vets to cheer them up during the holidays. Myfoxfw.com reported that when Chapman contacted the VA to arrange delivery, this was the VA’s reply:

That’s great. We’re thrilled to have them, except the only thing is, we can’t accept anything that says “Merry Christmas” or “God bless you” or any scriptural references because of all the red tape.3

Spawning a Lost Generation
In the final analysis, at stake is the legacy of a generation confronting a huge challenge—one that has nothing to do with politics, complicit religious apostates, economics, or social revolution. It has to do with God Himself.

If the country continues down its current path, it will become the poster child for Romans 1 and will pay the price for failing to communicate God’s Word clearly to the rising generation:

Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things (Rom. 1:21–23).

The incriminating words are although they knew God, they did not…

Two core deficiencies mark the failure of those who once “knew God”: (1) They refuse to “glorify Him.” That is, they refuse to give God His rightful place. (2) They refuse to be “thankful.”

Such people become a society of takers, never acknowledging the divine source of benevolence. They crave the best for themselves because, in their minds, they deserve it. And they credit themselves for their achievements, with no thanks to God. The consequences are inevitable: man-centered creature worship.

Unfortunately, the casualties extend to the next generation, which is not taught gospel truth or biblical norms. The result is the condition feared by the young man whom Reagan quoted: a society that lives and dies without people believing in God or the Christ who came to save them.

Societal endorsement of the death of Christianity and the Judeo-Christian ethic is suicidal. Rejecting what has brought this country up will assuredly bring it down.

The War That Was Never a Contest
During the Christmas season, a popular “prosperity gospel” preacher was asked to comment on whether there was actually a war on Christmas—meaning on Christ and Christianity.

He dodged the issue, saying it was not a concern for him and, therefore, not something to waste time discussing. That attitude is a problem plaguing many people both in and out of our pulpits. History unequivocally certifies, as does Romans 1, that there is a point when it is simply too late to fix things. Exactly how near we are to that juncture can be debated, but there is a compelling solution.

It can be found on a small plaque in a small garden in Jerusalem. On the door into an empty tomb is the inscription, “He Is Risen.” When every prophecy is examined and all of the commemorations; celebrations; and triumphant, ageless songs of His birth, life, and sacrificial death on the cross converge, the fact that He indeed has risen makes Christianity victorious.

Today forces are aligning to declare the resurrection did not happen—that it is the stuff of myth and legend. Yet for more than 2,000 years, untold millions have believed and would, en masse, testify that every blessing He brought from that place of death is real. And beyond personal deliverance from eternal torment, there is the sure promise of His return to Earth someday.

From this perspective there is no contest. We are on the right side of the issue. The war to banish God has already been won. In the end, we will see that all the enemies’ attempts were only small skirmishes destined to be forgotten when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11).

ENDNOTES
  1. Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Religious Broadcasters,” January 30, 1984 <reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1984/13084b.htm>.
  2. Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals,” March 8, 1983 <reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1983/30883b.htm>.
  3. Calvert Collins, “Students, parents upset that Christmas cards won’t go to local veterans due to policy,” December 23, 2013 <tinyurl.com/myfoxdfw-com-vets>.

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