Speaking the Truth in Love

Rewriting American History

(Devotional message delivered on Sunday night 6/26/16)

In his bestseller The Wright Brothers, David McCullough tells the story of two men from Dayton, Ohio, who changed the world. On December 8, 1903, Smithsonian director Samuel Langley made his final attempt to launch a manned flying machine. His Aerodrome plunged straight into the Potomac. Just nine days later, Wilbur and Orville Wright made the world’s first airplane flights at Kitty Hawk. The media suppressed the news. The Wrights were perceived as liars and frauds.

In 1914, the Wrights were done another injustice (by this time Wilbur was dead). Smithsonian director Charles Walcott engaged a famous pilot named Glenn Curtiss to take the failed Aerodrome out of storage, make significant modifications, and fly it. Curtiss flew the modified machine with some success. After “proving” that Langley and not the Wrights had built the first workable airplane, the Smithsonian returned the Aerodrome to its original condition and put it back in storage. Orville was furious. But the Smithsonian didn’t admit its deception until 1942.

In the United States rewriting history is no longer uncommon. Public school textbooks write God out of the nation’s founding. Students read that the Founding Fathers were all deists, skeptics, and hypocrites. And students never learn that in years still remembered by older citizens, teachers began the school day with prayer and a Bible reading.

Government officials and the media even rewrite history as it happens. Early Sunday morning, June 12, Muslim fanatic Omar Mateen brutally murdered 49 people in Orlando. The rewriting began immediately. Yes, 10 Muslim countries execute homosexuals. Yes, Mateen celebrated as a teenager when the Twin Towers fell. Yes, Mateen made 911 calls and sent texts during the massacre pledging allegiance to Isis. But radical Islam had nothing to do with it. Gun violence.

A disturbing number of people are swallowing. Only 48% of Americans believe that the Orlando atrocity had anything to do with fanatical Islam. If a man says that he’s a woman, the government readily believes him. But if a man says that he’s a jihadist, the government wastes time and money trying to find a motive for his massacre.

The prophet Isaiah says that “justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has fallen in the public squares” (Isa. 59:14). This indictment of ancient Judah is as current as the morning headlines. Truth has indeed fallen in the public square, and its demise is a dangerous threat.

Consider the popular slogans “war on terror” and “war on terrorism.” On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Did Americans rally together and go to war on bombs or bombers? Such a silliness never entered anyone’s mind. America went to war with Japanese imperialists and German Nazis.

Fanatical Muslims don’t frighten me. The U.S. military could give them an apocalypse to remember for centuries to come. What frightens me is America’s blindness to reality. Truth has fallen in the public squares. We cannot defeat an enemy we refuse to see.

This is true of our spiritual battle too. Peter didn’t say, “Your adversary the […] prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). He plainly identified the devil as the prowling and fierce enemy. Failing to acknowledge Satan’s destructive power and intentions means spiritual defeat.

Satan is, in fact, mixed up in the plans of Islamic fanatics. In 1991, I heard an unsettling presentation by Guy N. Woods warning of the rise of Islam and its threat to the United States. Woods saw something that most people at that time didn’t notice. Muslim fundamentalists have a plan. They want to take over the world. It sounds ridiculous. But the spread of radical Islam is no laughing matter. Extremists are infiltrating peaceful countries around the globe and wreaking havoc.

The church needs a plan of similar proportions. Paul, Silas, and Timothy “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). How? By domination or violence? No. They changed the world by encouraging people to follow Jesus. Following jihadists leads to misery, ruin, and death. But following Christ leads to life, hope, peace, joy, grace, and love.

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