The Great Awakening
The date was July 8th, 1741 when one of Christianity's most renowned preachers, Jonathan Edwards, took the pulpit in Enfield Connecticut to deliver what is arguably the most famous sermon ever preached on American soil, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."
This heated sermon is widely regarded as one of the main catalysts for what would become known as The Great Awakening--an unprecedented series of revivals across Britain and the thirteen colonies that convicted the spiritual consciousness of a young America and forever changed the trajectory of the Church and the Christian faith.
Recent tragic events evoke a question. Are we yet again in the hands of an angry God?
Could the dour and recalcitrant state of our Christian marriages be, at least partially, to blame?
On both questions, my belief is "Yes".
On May 15 at 2:30 pm, an 18 year-old kid, Payton Gendron, walks into a grocery store in Buffalo and kills thirteen people (11 of them Black, 2 of them White). By his own admission he targeted Buffalo because it was the city with the most Black residents in closest proximity to his home.
Erie County sheriff John Garcia called the massacre "pure evil".
Just ten days later on May 25th at 11:32 local time, another 18-year-old, Salvador Rolando Ramos after shooting his own sixty-six-year-old grandmother proceeds to Robb Elementary School clad in body armor and armed with an AR-15 rifle and high capacity magazine (purchased just days after his 18th birthday). Before his ill-fated rampage was over, 19 small children lay dead along with the gunman.
Then again five days later (May 30th), police arrested a 16-year-old who was secretly recruiting other high school students to carry out a mass shooting at their high school in Berkeley, California. A search of his home uncovered assault rifles, several knives, and sundry parts to create explosive devices.
Across this great nation, most of us Americans proclaim outrage and question, "How could this happen?"
As I read the news reports and even search my own emotions, we all want to point at something or someone as the underlying culprit--blatant racism, woefully lax gun laws, violent video games, and bullying, just to name a few.
We somehow feel that if we can blame a listless Congress, powerful lobbies, or hate groups that we can somehow limit, if not eradicate such "pure evil". Pure evil that stealthily entraps the souls of some of our children and steals the lives of other children.
While there is an element of truth in the culpability of each of these entities, the Truth is not in our culture's convenient but short-sighted rhetoric. The Truth is much more complex, personal, and convicting.
How much of America's "pure evil" falls at the feet of the Church? How much responsibility lies with me?
As I sat thinking about the violence, hate, and rampant disregard for human life, my Spirit led me to the book of Malachi chapter 2:2-4 for the Lord's warning to his people. I can't overemphasize the point that this Word is directed to God's people.
"I [The Lord] will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive...I will punish your descendants and splatter your faces with the manure from your festival sacrifices, and I will throw you on the manure pile. Then, at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning."
Our children are our greatest blessings. But, what does the Lord mean that our blessings will be cursed and our descendants will be punished?
Are we in the hands of an angry God?
How is Satan able to corrupt young minds such that 18-year old kids transform into "pure evil" killing machines? How does the Adversary distort sensibilities such that hate becomes indiscriminate and nothing is sacred or immune--not even churches (as in the 2015 Charleston, SC massacre) or elementary schools (like Sandy Hook in 2012 or more recently Robb Elementary)?
The answer is hidden in plain sight. Satan is fighting a spiritual battle--intent to steal, kill, and destroy. But, we Christians have yet to figure that out.
We still expect to legislate these problems away. I can promise you that there is no legislation that will turn the tide of this spiritual warfare that is destroying our children, our homes, and our nation. How many of our children's souls and lives have to be lost before we realize what kind of battle is waging? Who among us is naive enough to think that the Adversary isn't already sowing the seeds for more massacres to come?
Spiritual Revival in Marriage
A little further down in this same Malachi chapter (verses 13-14), the Lord gets more specific in attributing much of the turmoil squarely at the feet of marriages that call him Lord.
"Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn't accept them with pleasure...I'll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But, you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows."
The sad reality is that many of our children, even Christian ones, are growing up in spiritually fractured homes where the Lord has forsaken our offerings and prayers because we are not being faithful to one another in every sense of the word. We have corrupted the covenant of marriage. And, this corruption has left many of our children spiritually (and oftentimes physically) unprotected.
For six years, Eusebeia has promoted a spiritual revival for Christian marriage. Last week it was Robb Elementary School. But, next week it could be the school of your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. How many more children must be lost before we stop the petty marital bickering and implore the Holy Spirit to make our marriages worthy of another Great Awakening?
Uncompromising worship and stewardship of the Lord's resources is the only path towards blessings that are not cursed. As Christian couples, we must stop depending only on our culture's carnal weapons. We must turn from our unfaithful ways--selfishness, materialism, and apathy. We must unite in our faith and in our prayers. We must become unified spiritual bedrocks in our homes. And, we must take the time to spiritually invest in our children in our homes, churches, and neighborhoods.
Even in the hands of an angry God, our marriages can become lightning rods of revival as we pray for national healing of hearts and minds. Will you please join us in this corporate cry?