Passive faith has invaded the American religious community. It is easily detected in the conversations that have grown in popularity over the past several years. This is never more true than election time and in times of crisis.
Some of the popular tell-tell phrases include, “America always rises to the challenge.”; “We will be better than ever.”; “We’ve been here before and survived.”; “We are still the greatest nation in the world.”
National pride and positive thinking not-withstanding, the idea that things will never change is deeply rooted in human psychology but not in human history. Studies reveal that we are prone to a condition known as “Normalcy Bias.” This condition causes us to believe that things will always be the same despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
In reality, things do change. How many people just a decade ago would have believed that gay marriage would be the law of the land or that we would be arguing over who could use school restrooms and showers?
The Romans believed they were invincible until they were forced to realize that they weren’t. Even in scripture we see this condition manifesting itself.
It was around 600 B.C. when the Prophet Jeremiah began to declare a Word from God to the people of Judah. “Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place.” He went on to say that if they did not change their ways, God would thrust them from His presence. (Jeremiah 7:1-15 NIV)
The people took great pride in their heritage. They saw the temple of the Lord as a place of protection and the city of Jerusalem as an unassailable fortress. They believed that because God had blessed them with the place of worship and the city, that He would always protect them.
They were right in the view that God wanted them to enjoy the temple and the city. The problem was that they had broken the covenant they had made with God. He warned them about their unjust actions toward each other, their oppression of the weak, theft, murder, adultery and lies. He was angry that they worshiped other gods and then expected Him to bless them.
He warned them about their wrong beliefs,
“Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord… Behold you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’ - that you may do all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:4-10 NASB)
Bringing His rebuke to a fine point, God instructed them to reflect on Shiloh. Shiloh was the first resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle of God. Settled in the days of Joshua, the name means “peace” and remained a refuge and place of His Presence for over 300 years.” By Jeremiah’s day, however, Shiloh had become a wasteland which not only lacked the presence of God, but lacked any substantive life or beauty whatsoever. As a point of interest it remains in ruins to this day.
The people of Judah kept changing rulers, but they never changed their ways. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before God allowed their enemy to make them slaves to a foreign power so they could learn the sad but important lesson that God will not endure competition. May the people of our great nation awake to this truth without the need for extreme measures.