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Where is God?

January 10, 2016 by

The last few days I’ve been asking myself the question, where is God in these United States I call home? Others have been asking too. Franklin Graham recently called on President Obama to turn from executive actions – which may or may not be effective in reducing incidents of tragic gun violence – and turn to Jesus. He rightly suggests that a nation which glorifies graphic and pervasive violence in video games and films might perhaps not have any time left in which to glorify God.

And about a month ago, students at a Catholic high school in Connecticut filmed themselves silently asking why, in the wake of every mass shooting, we are called upon to offer “thoughts and prayers” for the victims, yet at the same time, using the very names of God and Jesus, or calling for prayer about something other than a mass shooting, is often grounds for expulsion or suspension from our public schools.

A student from East Catholic High School holding a sign that reads: Pray that God is allowed back into our lives

These are but two examples that struck a chord with me. Sure, I don’t agree with everything Graham espouses; certainly not his virulent opposition to the Muslim faith. And yes, I understand the underpinnings of the constitutional separation of church and state, and why this idea, as complex as it can be in regard to our public schools, is in many ways crucial to the very fabric of our nation. But surely there must be a way to get back to “one nation, under God.”

Our nation was founded as a haven for the religiously and economically persecuted, and despite the well-documented failings of our founding fathers with regard to slavery and other issues, I believe they were devout men trying to build this country into a place where everyone could live in harmony, where all could exercise the various inalienable rights we all memorized in high school.

Now over two hundred years later, their vision seems pretty clouded, the remaining and various wisps of it blown asunder by the raging winds of modern culture. Near the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs us to recognize a tree by its fruits (Matt. 7:20). Are the fruits that our nation is bearing, right now in 2016, demonstrably good? I’d argue they’re not. But there’s a roadmap for getting an unhealthy tree to bear fruit again: it’s called pruning.

So I’m calling on all my fellow citizens to do some pruning this year. I can’t tell you what limbs to lop, or which small buds to pinch, but for myself, I’m turning back to that Sermon which holds all of life’s instruction in its 2000-odd words. I’m going to judge less, so that I don’t get judged too severely. I’m going to clean out my own eyes before admonishing others to clean theirs, and I’m going to remember that they are the lamp of my body, which must not be polluted. I’ll try not to lay up any more treasures here on earth, but seek to deposit something in that heavenly storeroom. I will be a peacemaker, and I will be merciful. I will be light, and I will be salt. And I’m going to look for that rock on which to build my house, that rock upon which our nation should stand: God the Lord.

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Red Zimmerman

Red Zimmerman

Red Zimmerman lives at the Woodcrest Bruderhof and is the editor of Bruderhof.com.

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