My wife and I love watching older classic films. A great Friday night for us includes kicking back on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn and turning on a movie from the classics genre.
Roman Holiday, An Affair To Remember, Charade, North By Northwest, Rear Window, Pillow Talk, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Searchers, The Thrill Of It All, McKlintock!, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Andy Griffith Show, and I Love Lucy are some of our favorite movies and shows. Each has great writing, wonderful acting and an innocent quality that has been lacking in Hollywood for many years now.
Like Owen Wilson's character in Midnight In Paris, I find myself longing for this golden era of film. What a time to be alive and experience the magic of the movies. When entertainment provided not only a clever tale but did so without so much of the vulgarity and lewdness showcased today.
My wife and I recently enjoyed State Of The Union, staring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, for the first time. This 1948 Frank Capra film is funny, cute and timeless.
It's accurate descriptions of politics and life in America might as well have been written in 2016 and reveal the deep levels of cronyism, corruption and moral waywardness found within politics. It opens your eyes to just what Washington, D.C. and power does to a man. It is honest about the human condition, yet provides hope that man's ability to choose the right path can lead to restoration and healing.
Doesn't that sound like a speech any number of politicians could give today? And yet how otherworldly would it seem?
Here is a man on the cusp of winning the Republican nomination for President who finally has a change of conscience and as a result publicly owns up to his failures.
People just don't do that anymore, if they ever really did.
People play it safe, keep their cards close to the vest and rarely if ever take ownership of their mistakes.
Which has me thinking about the degradation of political discourse in this country. How vile, wretched and low have we allowed things to sink? We sadly live in a society where comments about male anatomy, serious shortcomings in character, lies, and a lack of general human decency are not only tolerated but celebrated.
It saddens me to witness the demise of a culture in this way.
As bad as things may appear, all is not lost.
All was not lost for Spencer Tracy in State of The Union, and not all is lost with America. On one hand there is a very real sense in which things will continue to get worse until Christ returns, but there is also a very real sense in which nothing and no one is so far gone that redemption is impossible.
America can be redeemed from the mess we have made, but the Donald won't be the one to lead us there. No, that's up to "we the people". America has been great throughout her history because for the most part she has been good, moral and aware of her need for God. Sadly today, few if any of these attributes describe her.
Throughout her history Israel has strayed from God and became no different than her pagan neighbors who did not know God. Rather than remain faithful to God by obeying His commands, and thereby showing the rest of the world what God is like, Israel failed and chose to adopt the moral corruption of their neighbors.
So why do I bring up Israel in the middle of a post seeking to interject some hope into the current political and social context in which we find ourselves?
There's more to the story of Israel and it has some similarities to our own story.
Not only did Israel stray from the path to goodness and righteousness to pursue what was right in her own eyes, that's the part that is similar to our story, but Israel was restored. Israel was caught in this almost constant cycle of sin, punishment, repentance, and restoration.
So what might this look like for us in 2016?
While America is not Israel, many of God's people reside within her borders. Here are a few ways this could play out in each of our lives.
Draw a circle around yourself
In other words, deal with your own stuff first. Before we can start talking about the problems in Washington, we need to start addressing the problems in our own hearts. If we are honest, there are things going on in each of our hearts that make what's going down in Washington look like child's play. Take stock of your heart. Ask those around you to give you honest, loving feedback. The course and direction of a nation is in large part a collection of the stories of the hearts of her people.
Vote based on principles and values not emotions
How many of us make good choices when we are angry? If you're anything like me, things don't go well at all when you make decisions while your mad. In fact most of my apologies actually begin by asking forgiveness for what I said or did while angry. Don't let that be the case with how you exercise your right to vote. Stand on your principles instead. Take stock of what you believe and why you believe it. Research candidates and learn where they line up with your values and where they don't. Decide what values on which you are unwilling to compromise and which you are. The sanctity of human life for instance is a nonnegotiable for the faithful follower of Jesus, while issues regarding financial policies, trade deals, and immigration may be in the open hand. You don't impact a culture and the world around you by voting and living life by your emotions.
Pray your heart out
Prayer is a powerful thing and it can make all the difference in the world. One of the more remarkable aspects of being an American is that we are involved in selecting officials to whom we delegate the powers of governing. These leaders wield the sword on our behalf but just like each of us they aren't capable of doing it all alone. Leading requires a great deal of wisdom and discernment as the stakes are very high and temptations abound. We should be in constant, vigilant prayer for our governing leaders at all levels. They need our prayers for the burden and responsibility of leadership is great. Ask the Lord to grant wisdom, insight, and discernment but also that God would get a hold of their hearts.
Seek the welfare of the land
God has planted us here in this nation, in this very time. You and I are missionaries to the world around us. As a result, we should do normal, everyday things with heavenly aims. Perform your work, lead your family, and love your neighbors in such a way as to make Christ look great. The greatest good you can do for your city is to point as many of her people as possible to the goodness, grace and love of Christ. Therefore ask God to do good and great things in your city. Smile as you pass people on the street. Offer a helping hand every chance you get. Leverage your time, money and energy towards pushing back darkness and injecting light into a world that desperately needs it.