Is America‘s Lamp Half Full or Half Empty?
In the New Testament Jesus tells three parables or stories of people dealing with money or what they are blessed with. As much of America is obsessed with wealth and getting rich these stories are definitely relevant to Americas relationship with God. In them he is observing the actions of the those involved. In a way they are all three related. One is the story of the ten virgins and how they take care of and use their lamps and their oil. Another is the story of some servants who are entrusted with caring for their masters wealth in the form of talents or money.. Finally there is the story of the Widow’s Mite. Jesus observes a poor widow giving her offering and praises her. Each story has to do with how they use what they are given or what they have. To me they are all related.
As I travel and talk to people around the nation it has become clear to me that many people, Christians included, have very little Biblical knowledge. That is a scary thing when you consider that the Bible says “my people are destroyed for a lack of Knowledge” That is in Hosea Chapter 4. The whole chapter describes what a fallen nation looks like and it is a perfect description of America. Note that God said “my people,” he did not say the sinners, heathen or lost.
So what is a Talent? It was a unit of money or wealth, in Jesus time. It was used in a parable told by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30. He was explaining how a man’s servants handled their master’s wealth in his absence. Some understood that he was blessed and made money and harvested where he had not even planted. They used his wealth to create more wealth. However one servant hid the money and did nothing with it being scared if he lost it he would be in trouble. The other servants doubled their money, however the servant who hid his money was punished for his failure to use what was given him to the benefit of the master. He was punished for his laziness.
All the servants had observed their master and they all knew how he did things. The difference was in how they used the knowledge they had gained. The third chapter of Malachi in the old testament tells clearly how God deals with those who do what he says and those who do not. It outlines clearly that God rewards those that do what he commands and how he treats those who don’t. It is explained in much more detail in Deuteronomy 28 which is a chapter that explains how God Blesses a nation that does what he says. The second half of the Chapter clearly lines out the curses he puts on a nation that fails to follow his commands. If you read this chapter you will see where America was at and where America is headed. By reading the Bible you gain knowledge of what God expects from us. Once you have that knowledge, your actions determine how God will relate to you.
What has that got to do with America? That servant was punished for not doing what he knew his master would do. The story makes clear that the servant knew what to do, however, he did not do it. He did not act on that knowledge. That is much like America today. Many Americans know what to do, however, they choose not to do it. It is one thing to not know what to do, it is quite another to know and choose not to do it. That was the punishable offense, not doing it.
So what is the “Talent” that Christians are charged to share and make grow. It is pretty clear in Mark 16:15, we are commanded to share the Gospel. However when you share it, you are obligated to educate those who accept the Gospel in how to follow it. We need to educate them so they can not be deceived. How do we do that? With the Word of God.
America’s Biblical ignorance may be the cause of America’s downfall. Is it to late to turn things around and save America. When I see things like people reaching out when natural disasters hit. When I hear of people going out of their way to help those with less. Or of people paying off other people’s layaway’s as happened during the Christmas season. There is reason to hope. While those are nice gestures. The truth is America has pretty much turned it’s back on God as a nation. We still profess to be a Christian nation, but it is a lip service and there is a lack of actions and deeds to justify the claim. The current national debt is one testimony to that.
American’s understand that there is a blessing for following God and his Word. They understand the getting and the reward part. They do not seem to care or understand the obligation to share with those who do not have. Today in America, many look on the poor as if it is a crime or a sin to be poor. If America exercised it’s Christian beliefs there would not be near as many starving people in the world. It is not that there is not enough to feed the hungry and the poor. It is that there is not a willingness to stand up and take charge and see that the poor and hungry are fed. What America is wasting in interest on it’s National Debt could feed almost all the poor and hungry throughout the world. America has elected leadership that gives lip service to Christian values, but that do not act on those Christian values. It is leadership that has squandered America’s future for the here and now. The Biblical admonitions to live debt free and owe no man anything are not even understood let alone used as standards to guide our dealing with finances.
Fortunately for me I was raised by a Mother who not only understood God’s Word. She lived it, by doing without so she might help others. She suffered and sacrificed so others would not have to. When Jesus spoke of the Widow’s Mite, I understand it by watching the life of my Mother. She would give of the little she had, always believing she was blessed and that there were always those who needed the little she had more than she did. Her life was a testament to her faith. That is the kind of leadership that America needs. Did it die out with the Founding Father’s. I do not think so, The problem is that we have gotten so far from our Christian roots and our heritage that America is close to spiritual death.
In the story of the ten virgins. It said they all clearly knew they were waiting on the bridegroom to come. It also says they all had a lamp. It implies that the oil was available to all of them, but only five chose to use that oil. To me that oil represents the knowledge of God’s Word. They all had the knowledge, but only five chose to use that knowledge. This brings us back to Matthew 25. The end of the chapter clearly explains that it is not enough to have knowledge of God’s Word. You must act on God’s Word to receive a Blessing from God. If you think I am wrong read the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew Chapter six. Especially read verse fifteen. It makes clear that failure to act, forfeits your blessing. Contrary to what many say, receiving a blessing from God is conditional to our doing what he says. There are many groups that believe faith is all you need. My understanding of God’s Word is that they are in for a rude awakening down the road. They are acting like the servant with one talent and will receive the same reward.
As America sets on the verge of an economic collapse, and from my view an inevitable one. The question is will a collapse completely severe us from our roots or will it draw America back into harmony with our spiritual past. Will America return to following and sharing the talents of faith that built it. Or will America forsake and completely bury the talent. Which brings us back to the Widow’s Mite. Why did she give all she had. I looked up the word penury that it uses in the verse and that word means poverty. Was she playing God and scamming him to get more from him. That would be the attitude of many today. It is my belief she was acting on her faith. She knew what little she had came from God. It was her way of showing her thanks and her willingness to trust in God. There are many that try to live that kind of life in America. My Grandmother and my Mother were two examples I have been lucky enough see personally. It was the mindset of my youngest daughter, a nurse and a mother of three who went home to be with the Lord in August 2010 after a seven year battle with a brain tumor. It is something I know I should do, but I often fall short of. Many of us do fall short of the mark. The goal is to keep trying and seeking to get better at walking the walk. The one who judges whether we made it to the finish line or not is God.
So why did I bring up the Widow’s Mite which is in Luke 21. Well I have noticed Jesus often told a parable and then the consequences of failure. Well the story of the Widow’s Mite was told just before Jesus told of what the signs of the end would be. One of the things he said would be happening was that it would be as in the days of Noah. They would be eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage. However in this day and age even that is a controversial topic. Yet it is still happening today. Sometimes it was what Jesus did not say, but the Word of God did or does say. In Genesis Chapter six it talks about the time of Noah. It says that men were totally evil to the point God decided to destroy mankind. Well murder, mayhem and evil are daily displayed to us in the media. So is it time for God to destroy mankind again. That is for God to decide. My only goal is to share what I understand the Bible to say. My hope is people will wake up and see the light. Hopefully America will turn back to its roots.