“God bless you” is now a microagression. Not “Yahweh bless you,” or “Christ bless you,” or even “Allah bless you,” but generic, non-specific, deific “God bless you.” The Christmas season will see fewer reminders of the roots of our holiday festivities than last, and so it has been for some time now as we seek not to offend, or in many cases are told by force of law that we are offensive. The question I have is what are we getting as we box our faith in to a neat, tidy and carefully constrained Sunday morning package? Is the nation really better off with religious expression carefully fenced in and its perimeter heavily guarded?
The debate about whether this is a Christian nation is endless. But this is undeniably a nation that throughout its existence has largely and energetically believed in a deity of some sort – a power beyond ourselves. Even if we did not believe that God incarnated through birth by a virgin in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, when we saw that living creche on the town square at Christmas time, we knew there was something out there. That something gave us hope – that something made us confident in ourselves and in our future.
Well, no more. In the wake of a hideous terrorist attack, we are told boldly on the front page of a newspaper “God Isn’t Fixing This.” When I point out what a hopeless statement that is, people are offended and not afraid to tell me so. We have so little hope any more that people are willing to consider simply throwing the constitution out the window. Moreover, this hopelessness invades even our business climate.
In the Wall Street Journal this morning, Dennis Berman editorializes on the pending merger of Dow Chemical and Dupont.
Across the American business world, the goal is to cut costs, consolidate, do more with less.
You can literally feel it when you are shoved onto on a shrunken middle seat on a United Continental or American-US Airways flight. Or perhaps when you drink a future Budweiser-Miller brew. Or are left selecting health insurance among a dwindling set of megaproviders.
The argot of American business has been reduced to “sensible growth,” “dividend return” and “listening to shareholders.”
This is not an America playing to win. It’s an America playing not to lose.
I am seeing this in my clientele as well as in the mega-mergers. It is an ugly picture of this nation that once was a beacon of hope to the world.
Berman concludes his piece, “And then perhaps the final, creeping fear: If the likes of Pfizer Inc., Anheuser-Busch, DuPont, UnitedHealth Group Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. have lost faith in the future, why should we feel any different?” He has one heck of a point.
I cannot help but think that as we have boxed in belief we have crowded out hope.
In his first epistle, the Apostle John wrote (IJohn5:4)
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.
We are seeing where faith fenced in takes us – cowering and attempting to “get by.” But faith in God, faith in something bigger than ourselves that has our back, faith openly expressed and loudly proclaimed, well, that moves us from “getting by” to victory.
So when I tell you “Merry Christmas” this season, if you are offended – tough teabags. I am just trying to remind you that we can do better than “get by,” we can win.