There is no doubt that the United States of America has been (for centuries) and still is the greatest nation in the world. But, are we losing the status of our greatness at the hand of our own pursuits? We are a nation who purports the ideals of freedom of (and from) religion as well as the liberty and justice for all. The pursuit of happiness and the “American dream” has guided our personal agendas and endeavors, often with great monetary reward. However, in the process of our pursuit of laudable goal, I am afraid we might have lost our soul – individually and as a nation. The bible asks the question, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36.
The slogan, America First, while catchy and contagious in its motive may actually herald the decline of America. Jesus, in the 8th chapter of the gospel of Mark, advises us that if we are to follow him, we must deny ourselves. He further elaborates that whoever tries to save his life shall lose it, but whoever shall lose his life for Christ’s sake and for the sake of the gospel shall save his life. This dichotomy intrigues me and is somehow lost in our pursuit to “Make America Great Again.”
We have become a nation of selfish people. I realize that we are still the most generous nation in the world, but selfishness is not measured by how much you give or don’t give. It’s a measure of the heart. Often, the motive of our giving is hidden in the benefit we can personally derive from the giving. We give for the benefit of tax write-offs and deductions. This is particularly important for the biggest givers in America. They employ the crafty intellect of accountants who advise them just how much to give to optimize (or minimize) their tax debt. This is the wrong motive for giving.
Sadly, the motive of tax debt optimization also motivates the church which is supposed to be the most charitable organization of all. One of the reasons why many churches supported the candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump is because of his promise to restore “religious liberty.” What that really means is that they would like to have the ability to speak politically on matters while not compromising the all-important non-profit 501-c3 status that allows them to avoid paying taxes. From a fiscally responsible standpoint, I can understand it. But, are the savings of taxes worthy of a bite out of the soul of America?
The love of money is and always has been the root of all evil. The unfortunate, but often disguised truth, is that in our capitalistic society the success is measured in dollars. If the economy is doing well, we believe “America is on the right track.” We cannot be beguiled by end result and overlook the process. The process is as, if not more, important as the product. We all ascend to greatness on the shoulders of our predecessors and hopefully we gratefully acknowledge the shoulders on whom we stood. Shoulders are substantially strong to support the weight of our ascent. However, if our ascent is on the necks of our predecessors, we cripple those we leave behind in our pursuits. I’m afraid the latter has been the modus operandi of our recent efforts. We give the appearance of charitability, but a charitable heart is far from our fabric.
One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 58. In its first few verses it describes the “acts” of sacrifice that are made as a show to hopefully make our voices heard of God. Knowing the heart and motive behind these outward displays of charity, God demands more. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.” (Isaiah 58:6-8). How much of this is our genuine pursuit? The final pre-requisite in the passage is that we hide not ourselves from ourselves – that we honestly assess our motives. God, who judges the heart, clearly knows the motive behind our endeavors.
Yes, our economy is doing well. For at least the past 4 years, we have been on a trajectory of strong academic recovery. Because Donald Trump is the current president he will undoubtedly receive some credit for this. Consumer confidence is up and it might be in large part because of the belief that President Trump will institute policies that bring economic growth to our nation. But Church, please do not sell your soul for the promise of prosperity!
Many remain silently or even vocally supportive of the clearly divisive acts of this president because of the benefit he provides for us. Again I ask, what does it profit a man to gain this world and lose his soul? We can support our president and still correct his wrong-doing. But instead, I see the Church (of all institutions) stand solidly behind every act of lunacy this man does acting as if it does not erode the fabric of our union. We’ll accept whatever we have to, as long as we get what we want is the apparent mantra of Evangelicals. I hear the cervical spines of many American’s cracking with the certain end result of a divided into two sects – the wealthy and the paraplegics upon whose necks the wealthy climbed in their pursuit.
Sadly, I watched this week our President encouraged law officers to rough up their detainees. Some will argue, “he didn’t mean it literally; he was just joking.” Our words have power and influence, especially when you are the leader of the free world. Police relations have been strained for decades and especially in recent years the police have been heavily scrutinized for mistreatment and indiscriminate killing of specifically African-American men. It is extremely inappropriate for the president of the United States of America to even jokingly advocate anything other than the fair and humane treatment of all detainees, even if they are criminal. This president seems to relish the power to dehumanize and publicly shame any person who seeks to oppose his “sovereign will” – even those whom he has appointed himself. His divisive behaviors continue to erode the cord that binds us as a united state. All the while the world watches in disbelief that we are so desperate for a few key political gains that we willingly accept the decimation of our reputation among world powers.
North Korea is clearly positioning itself for a confrontation – potentially militarily – with the United States. Perhaps diplomatic resolutions are not an option. They clearly will not be an option with a leader who knows NO diplomacy. I am concerned that we are such a divided nation at this point that even a common enemy would be insufficient to unite us again. It is widely believed that a nation divided against itself cannot stand. Our current Commander in Chief appears incapable of uniting his own cabinet or political party, let alone the nation and our allies.
We are poised on the brink of a massive military confrontation with potentially devastating and apocalyptic consequences. If we cannot or will not unite as a nation, our days as a sovereign power and world leader may be numbered. Yes, we have the strongest military in the world, but we have seen countless times in the Bible where mighty armies have fallen to the hand of far inferior military forces. The underlying factor in the failure is the heart of the nation – whether it was toward God or not. Now more than ever, I am concerned that our soul has been lost!
In our quest to provide equal rights and liberty to all, we have embraced and supported behaviors and lifestyles that are contrary to the will of God. In our belief that we should be the masters of our own fates and bodies, we have permitted the murders of millions of fetuses. In our desire for economic growth, we have compromised our requirement for character and integrity in our elected officials. God help us now! God help the Church now! Even the Church itself has compromised its values in support of a leader who display absolutely no fruits of the Spirit (e.g., love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). Consequently, this country has no hope of being lead by the Spirit. We are now lead by America’s Agenda, whatever that might be. From here on out, it is America First – not God First! Our selfish pursuits will be the eventual cause of our demise. God help America – God help the Church!
Dr. Williams is a board certified Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose & Throat Physician) in Nashville, TN where he opened his surgical practice, Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists of Nashville.
In addition to his establishing his private surgical practice on the campus of Southern Hills Medical Center, he is also an adjunct assistant professor at Meharry Medical College and founded the Voice Care Center of Nashville, where he specializes in treating and preventing voice problems in Christian and Gospel music artists.
As an independent gospel recording artist himself, Dr. Williams has a keen insight to not only the medical and surgical implications of voice disturbances, but also the many spiritual impacts.
During his medical school training, Williams wrestled with the possible demands that his future medical career (neurosurgery or cardiac surgery at that time) would preclude his ability to effectively develop the ministry he’d been called into. While completing his Ph.D. studies, a colleague suggested Otolaryngology.