My younger grandchildren always enjoyed watching videos of Jay-Jay the Jet Plane. If you don’t have small children around the house, you may not be familiar with Jay-Jay, but trust me, he is really big with the pre-school crowd.
But I became troubled recently while I was watching a holiday-themed Jay-Jay video with one of the kids.
Jay-Jay and his friends were flying around (as they so often do) while discussing the meaning of Thanksgiving. Jay-Jay didn’t understand the concept of being thankful, or even what to be thankful for.
His little jet-friend Tracy set him straight, to some degree, by reminding him of the good things in his life and teaching him to appreciate his friends, his job, and the comforts of home at Tarreytown airport.
What bothers me is the fact that my grandchildren are being taught a lesson that is only two-thirds complete. Watching Jay-Jay, they will learn to count their blessings, and they will learn to be thankful for them – but aren’t these two concepts wasted unless they learn WHO to be thankful TO?
That Jay-Jay Thanksgiving video represents what is wrong with us in America today. We have enough sense to realize that we are fortunate to live in such a prosperous, free and open society. We know that we should be thankful . . . but we have forgotten who to thank.
What Kind of People Are We?
Sadly, President Obama was right back when he declared that America “is not a Christian nation.” We have drifted a long way from our cultural roots. Back when I was young, and dinosaurs roamed the Great Plains, public acknowledgements of God were still common and non-controversial.
It has been a grim experience to witness, in my lifetime, the decline of America into an increasingly humanistic, secular and fractured society. We have allowed God-hating people to run rampant over our culture.
We cannot pray in school. Nativity scenes are being banned all across the country. The Ten Commandments have been removed from public display in courthouses. Political correctness dictates that you say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” There is a movement to have the words “under God” stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance.
Anything that hints of God is being eliminated from our public life.
Ironically, we are free today precisely because our forefathers believed in God and acted upon that belief. It was a shared faith in God’s authority and power that gave those early Americans the fortitude to persevere against all of the challenges they faced. Without God, this country would never have been born.
A Shared Vision Made Us Strong & Free
The people who founded this country shared a biblical worldview that molded the structure of our government and laws. It was a shared acceptance of biblical principles that led them to establish a constitution that upheld the concepts of liberty and individual freedom.
They understood an individual had intrinsic worth because he was created in the image of God.
I know, I know . . . there has been hypocrisy and greed. America has often failed to live up to its ideals. But the ideals are still alive, and this world is a better place because of them.
Despite our many failings God has greatly blessed this country since it’s founding.
We have rejected the sin of slavery, emancipated women, liberated entire continents from tyranny, cured horrific diseases, and elevated the common man’s standard of living to heights never dreamed of before in human history. God has been good to America.
Yet, in the face of such divine generosity, we have rejected our God.
Listen to the Thanksgiving shows on TV. Watch the parades. Unless you are watching Christian television, you will hear no mention of God. Thanksgiving Day has been reduced to a national pig-out that starts off the Christmas shopping season.
How Long Can We Get Away with This?
As we become more secularized and more forgetful of who has been buttering our bread, we teeter ever closer to that tipping point where God finally withdraws his protection and allows judgement to proceed.
I believe that the decline of America is well underway. We grow weaker and poorer, both materially and spiritually, with each passing day. I shudder to think of the country that my grandchildren will inherit if we do not reverse our course.
We can learn from the Old Testament how the people of ancient Israel suffered terrible judgements as a result of their rejection of God’s authority. A great nation was reduced to a wasteland because God’s people forgot who sustained them.
At the height of Israel’s glory, when King Solomon had just finished dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem, God appeared to him and made a sobering declaration. It was a promise of blessing for obedience . . . and judgement for sin.
We would be wise to heed the words that God spoke to Solomon so long ago:
When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, the LORD appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
“As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.’
“But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. And though this temple is now so imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’ “
(2 Chronicles 7:11-22, NIV)