By: Pastor Bob Vale, Middlebury First United Methodist Church
Morality goes down when moral people do nothing, are the words of Martin Luther King Jr. years ago, when he fought the struggle of racial equality in America. Billy Graham often said, “when wealth is lost, nothing is lost, but when Character is lost…all is lost.”
I believe the moral character of the United States is fighting for its life these days. The struggle of morality and love for humanity and equality for all is in the balance in the next decade or so of our future. The devil is dancing in the streets of America, my friends.
In my short lifetime, I have seen tremendous changes in our American culture that looks so different, as if I am living in another country. Not a month goes by where the reporting of a deranged individual goes into a marketplace, school, mall, university, train station, or concert and begins shooting and killing people. We cry out for mental health reform with little to no change from our government (And the carnage continues!) Homelessness is at an all-time high all across our nation. The devil is dancing in the streets, my friends.
We’ve become numb to the violence of mobs of people running into stores and malls, smashing windows, and stealing merchandise and valuables. (Ruining small businesses!) People are being accosted, robbed, beaten or killed on the city streets. In some cases, our judicial systems are not keeping the criminals off the streets, allowing criminals to cause more mayhem on innocent people. We’ve seen riots in the streets and businesses burned to the ground in the name of equality and social justice. We’ve justified the burning of our cities as equality and social justice, and in some cases, did not prosecute the rioters. The devil is dancing in the streets, my friends.
Police brutality is on the rise and rioting is increasing in our cities, as our hatred of one another tears us apart. The good and hard work of a police officer these days has placed a target on their back and many have died by being ambushed and killed. It has become harder to hire new police officers in this new “defund & despise the police” environment. America now leads the world in gambling opportunities, with new casinos in nearly every state and online sports betting all over the internet. Currently and in the years to come, many will fall prey to gambling addictions that will tear families apart. The devil is dancing in the streets, my friends.
No longer can friends and family have a friendly discussion about politics, religion, or social issues without division and hurt feelings. Many long-time friendships have been destroyed by disagreements on these three topics, all because we don’t agree with this liberal or conservative point of view. Abortion kills nearly a million babies a year across our country. The rioting and violence of January 6th into the nation’s capital building was not a way towards peace and unity but has divided us as if we are in the middle of a cold civil war of social and political issues. Certain voices and groups are pushing God out of our American culture and all faith groups seem to be seeing more “anti-God” voices and actions against faith groups. The devil is dancing in the streets, my friends.
Racism has been pushed to levels not seen since the American civil war in the 1860s, or the struggles of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. We are again in the midst of an intellectual racial war and can’t seem to find unity and love of brotherhood and sisterhood toward racial reconciliation. We simply point fingers at each other and call each other names of the worst kind. Which does no one any good. The devil is dancing in the streets, my friends. God created all of us to love each other no matter what the color, creed, or background. Red and Yellow, Brown, Black, and White, they are precious in God’s sight. Jesus loves all of us.
Our American media of radio, television, Twitter, cellphone news, Facebook, and other electronic media outlets were supposed to bring us together and unify us. Instead, they have all become platforms to shout their point of view and keep us divided rather than united. It’s no wonder we’re so divided when these television and radio shows point out the extreme positions and call out hypocrisy on both sides and enrage our senses wanting to find honesty and integrity in our culture. The devil is dancing in the streets, my friends.
Drugs of all kinds infiltrate our culture like a flood, killing our younger generation with fentanyl poisoning. It flows across our open southern borders with ease and our political leadership does not seem to mind or care that over 100,000 American youth die each year. The devil is dancing in the streets, my friends.
The sexual revolution of the 1960s has progressed and taken us down a 60-year journey of tremendous change and ultimately given us the LGBTQIA agenda; which is also tearing us apart culturally. Children are being asked to change their gender at the youngest of ages…sometimes without parental permission. Most of the major churches in America are struggling on one side or the other on this issue. (Few know what the bible really says on this topic…or they don’t care what the Bible says. Holding on to a secular inclusion of all mentality.) Meanwhile, the family structure in America is hurting with so many broken families through divorce and so many single-parent situations. It has changed us in so many ways over the past 60 years. The devil is dancing in the streets, my friends.
This past week I watched the 65th musical Grammy awards. It was called the most “woke” and “inclusive” awards ceremony of all time. As I watched the show, there was a couple who sang a song called, “Unholy” in a red devil’s outfit and a top hat with horns, and was applauded as the first transgender winner. (Transgender: Kim Petras and gay male singer Sam Smith.) The performance was certainly unholy in the eyes of God and further illustrated the anti-Christian feeling in our American culture. I wonder if the LGBTQIA community was all that excited about the global audience seeing the red devil costumes and being forever symbolized with satanic overtones to this gay and transgender singing couple. I would expect not. My, how times have changed. The devil is dancing in the streets my friend; (or at least on the Grammy Awards stage!)
Our American church attendance has fallen and taken a hit all across America. Over the past four decades, Christianity in churches has lost the culture war in America. Over the past 20 years, so many churches have closed their doors and the church buildings are being turned into breweries, fraternity houses, daycare facilities, apartments, laser tag buildings, and community buildings. Many churches struggle to find young families to participate, as their Sunday morning attention has turned to youth travel soccer, travel baseball, travel basketball, travel softball, and many other local recreational youth sports that play on Sunday mornings. Our culture has changed drastically on this one issue that has greatly impacted church attendance over the past three decades. American churches are getting older and smaller as the younger population is saying no thank you to attending a worship service. The devil is dancing in the streets, my friend.
How do we kick the devil off the streets of the USA?
Good Question: I believe revival needs to take place in America. America needs to come back to God. Unfortunately, I believe that the USA may need to collapse just like the Russians did in 1989 – 1992 to wake us up. The Russians came to the conclusion that it was not good to push God out of their communist culture since the end of WWII. America needs to come to terms with the words of Jesus about the 2nd greatest commandment…”To Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.” We are not loving each other as ourselves, we are despising one another and fighting with each other on the issues of politics, religion, and culture. There is a new T.V. ad campaign titled, “Jesus gets us.” However, I ask the question, why can’t we get each other and love each other? Why can’t we be like ebony and ivory on the piano and live in harmony? In many ways, this is what the “Jesus gets us” campaign is all about, the 2nd Commandment of Jesus to love one another, rather than fight each other. The devil is dancing in the streets, my friend.
Today, the United States of America is in many ways the Divided States of America. The word indivisible within the pledge of Allegiance has lost its meaning and depth. Indivisible means that nothing can divide America. We are now at war with ourselves. Americans are canceling out each other’s opinions and voices, by getting people fired from their careers or having their views taken off the public square of Twitter or Facebook. Oh, why can’t we just be friends? The devil is dancing in the streets, my friends.
In 1965 Burt Bacharach wrote the song, “what the world needs now is love sweet love,” sung by Jackie DeShannon. The inspired lyrics still ring true today as a voice calling for peace, love, and unity in the midst of fighting and disunity. I believe the Love of Jesus is what can unify us. The Holy Spirit can melt the hardest heart towards repentance and forgiveness. I’ve seen it before.
One side of America wants nothing to do with religion and the other side of America is calling for revival and for the people of America to come back to God. We are in the same situation as the prophets of the Old Testament, crying out to God, asking our nation to come back into a relationship with God. (II Chronicles &:14 says, “ If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.” This week, Revival is breaking out at Asbury college and seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Could the dove of the holy spirit land on America again? I hope so. Are we witnessing the seed of change? Because we need God in America again! I believe that Jesus is the answer for the world today. Above him, there’s no other and Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6) We need Christians dancing in the streets of America for Good and unity for all.
Billy Graham was once asked the question: “If Christianity is so valid, why is there so much evil in the world?” To this, the famous preacher replied, “With so much soap, why are there so many dirty people in the world? Christianity, like soap, must be personally applied if it is to make a difference in our lives and culture.” Notice that Billy said that we need to clean ourselves and not try to clean our neighbors. That is the Holy Spirits’ job and not ours!
Can a country change and come back to God? Yes, indeed. In the 1990’s many countries in the continent of Africa were warring together, as tribe vs. tribe were killing each other by the millions, with swords and knives. Yet a decade later, the dove of the Holy Spirit landed on Africa, and revival broke out. Over the past 20 years, people are finding God and churches are growing like crazy! Africa is now leading the world with the growth of Christianity. 40% of the United Methodist denomination now comes from the continent of Africa. Folks, if revival can happen in several countries in Africa when millions were killed in anger…revival can happen in America also, but hopefully without the loss of life.
I still believe in the good old U.S.A. and the wonderful freedoms we enjoy, including the freedom of religion to worship as we please. I still believe the career dream to do anything or become anything you wish to become is still alive. I still believe there are places and communities in America, like Middlebury, that are wonderful places to live and enjoy the American life. There are still pockets of churches that are growing and still proclaim the name of Jesus to the world and are making disciples for Jesus Christ. There are still amazing people with integrity in our government who are fighting the good fight on our behalf to make America a better place. I am proud to have served in the military during the first Gulf war as a younger man. I know there are military, police, first responders, teachers, hospital workers, farmers, factory workers, truck drivers, and many other hard-working occupations who we lift up as American heroes! I still strongly believe in the goodness of America. America is not perfect, but let us continue to work for a “More Perfect Union” for all people!
Pray for yourselves and for our country that has changed so much over the past 50 to 60 years! Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. With God’s help, I believe we can change our own personal corner of the world for Christ. Let’s slowly kick the devil off the streets of America. Let us follow the words of Jesus and let’s become the light of the world and the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13-16) You can do it.