Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”
It was Psychologist William Moulton who quizzed 3,000 people asking, “What do you have to live for?” He was shocked to find that 94 percent were simply enduring the present while they waited for the future, waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the children to grow up, waiting to retire, waiting for some long-awaited trip, waiting for someone to die, waiting for tomorrow without realizing we only have today. This is life’s great tragedy. Satan doesn’t care how spiritual your intentions or how Holy your resolutions as long as they are fixed on tomorrow.
In Acts 24, the Apostle Paul spoke clearly and boldly to one of the most powerful political leaders in the world at that time regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As he concluded his remarks, we have this response recorded in the scriptures, “Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time, I will call for you.’”
In hushing the voice of the preacher, Felix thought he silenced the truth. Felix pushed away God’s pleading. Convenient seasons were not his to plan and enjoy.
When we look at Paul’s boldness, we are confronted with the question — why did he do this? Why did he risk his life? Why did he speak out so strongly when it was so unpopular?
Isaiah, our great prophet of peace, taught us nearly 3,000 years ago in Jerusalem to speak truth to power. “For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent. For the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still. Until her justice shines bright, and her salvation glows like a flaming torch.”
Because something spoke louder! There is something I believe in America today in the hearts of millions that is causing them to rise up, stand up and speak on issues they had remained silent on for far too long. Liberty!
Something spoke louder in the lives of great Pastors in the past. Men like Rev. John Witherspoon, Pastor Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, Rev. Orange Scott, German Pastor Dietrich Bonheoffer and the Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King. We know that Psalm 33:12 says to us, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”
And it is true that for 166 years, pastors preached without restriction, which by the way was our founder’s intent.
It is true that pastors even preached in state legislatures! The Rev. Matthias Burnet, in a sermon delivered before the Connecticut Legislature in 1803, addressed the concern of American citizen’s responsibility to participate in the process by voting when he stated after preaching to the assembly; he turned to the crowd in the gallery and said, “Finally, ye whose high prerogative it is to invest with office and authority or to withhold them, [by voting] and in whose power it is to save or destroy your country, consider well the important trust. Which God [has] put into your hands. To God and posterity, you are accountable for them... Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions, which your fathers delivered to you.”
Pulpits were and are to be the moral compass of society.
In 2014, I was in the Holy Land during a conflict with Gaza when they were launching rockets into the heart of Israel. There were no tour buses running and most of the Holy sites were almost vacant of tourists. The small delegation I was with sent to Temple Mount where we met a small entourage of Israeli leaders including Uzi Landau, the Israeli Minister of Tourism.
After a short conversation, we were all introduced and when he spoke with me, he asked what I did. I explained that I was a pastor from Ohio. “Oh, a pastor,” he said.
“We know, that if the church in America is strong the America will be good, and if America is good, them Israel will be blessed!” Think just for a send about that. A member of the Israeli cabinet understood just how important the church has been and still is in America.
It was just a small group of Americans who gathered, planned and pledged their lives, fortunes and their sacred honor to each other for the cause of freedom that spurred a continent to become the most free and blessed land the world has ever known.
God used and blessed their lives and efforts in a powerful way for His glory. In the lives of Pastors of the past, why did they risk their lives? Why did they speak out so strongly when it was so unpopular? Why did they become involved personally standing for liberty? Because something spoke louder than just their words, it was necessary for them to get involved in the battle for freedom. It was Ronald Reagan who once said, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council, who writes a weekly column published in The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.