Summary: A sermon on joy for Indedendence Day July 4, 2004. (Outline adapted from Jack Peters; portions adapted from George Barna)
Sermon for 7/4/2004
If Things Are So Good, Why Do I Feel So Bad?
The Joy of the Lord
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
Thomas Jefferson wrote it and in August 1776 the delegates signed it. It was given to King George III and thus began the Revolutionary War and eventually the birth of our nation.
A. This Sunday we celebrate our nation.
B. We are the most blessed nation in the world. (From If Things are so Good, Why Do I Feel So Bad? By George Barna. Published in 1994.)
1. 2/3rd of all Americans own their homes. These are not just any homes; these are, on average, the largest homes in the world.
2. A college education is now a routine part of growing up for most Americans.
3. We have the highest household income levels in the world.
4. We have the lowest unemployment level in the world.
5. Years ago, the elderly were often living in poverty; currently, only 10% of them live below the poverty line. In fact, people in their sixties and beyond control a higher share of the nation’s wealth than younger adults.
6. Our democratic system of government has become the envy and the model for countries around the world.
7. There are about 300,000 places of worship, where anyone can freely worship God.
8. The entertainment and leisure industries are flourishing. Luxury automobiles, movie theaters, home theaters, music, sports, amusement parks, vacations.
9. The computer has made people’s lives more efficient and convenient. The amount of information available and the speed at which it is transmitted has exploded.
10. Medical and health care advances are allowing people to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.
C. Great, things are great. We are the most blessed and happy people on the globe. Happy? Are we happy? Just take a look around and we don’t see a lot of happy people.
D. For decades we prayed that God would grant us our fondest desires. Unfortunately, as C.S. Lewis warned, He did.
E. Unfortunately, Yes! Deuteronomy 8:7-14, 17-19.
1. Look at our attitudes. We are a very skeptical and suspicious people. We no longer trust other human beings- often because we know that they probably maintain the same self-absorbed values and goals as we do. Ex: More lawyers than any other nation in the world.
2. Look at our relationships: We are desperately lonely. WE cover up that despair by keeping busy. Our personal relationships are more superficial than ever. Marriage and families dissolve, friendships dissolve, work teams are restructured. WE are emotionally hollow because of all of the breakups.
3. Look at our character: We are impatient people. Road rage. Go into the grocery store or Wal-Mart. We are a nation of ill tempered tyrants. We want it all, and we want it now. We want our desires satisfied immediately at any cost.
4. Look at our health: Overweight, no exercise, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse.
5. Look at our level of compassion: While it appears that racial issues on average have gotten better, the compassion that generations have for each other has reached an all time low. Children place their parents in institutional care; elders are more and more deciding to leave their estates to charities instead of to their ungrateful, arrogant children. The heart of the family is mortally wounded.
6. Look at our wisdom: We have a lot of knowledge but little wisdom. Although we have machines to grind out reams of information, we have so little discipline to make that knowledge apply to our own lives.
7. Look at our spirituality: We appear to know less and less about what we believe and why we believe it. We have forfeited our faith to the gods of achievement and comfort. We as a nation have no awe of God or intention of respecting His rules. We have replaced the presence of God with well-intentioned but superficial religious activity. We have swapped God for the Big I.
F. Andresh Czonka, an immigrant from Hungary now a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Illinois: Americans are afraid. I see the fear in their eyes; I hear it in their voices. They lock their doors. They lie to protect themselves. I feel so bad for the country. But I feel so bad for the individual people; they seem to hurt so much, to be so alone. My country had problems. But we had an inner strength that is missing here. We had a different group of things we wanted to achieve, different things that we considered important and valuable. I wish this for Americans, to have the inner strength that God can give. When I came to this country, I was excited to be an American and to be with Americans. I looked at your country and felt it was the best in the world. And since my childhood I have believed that your country was blessed because of your faith in God and you’re chasing for the right things in life. But now I think differently. Americans don’t have much real faith in God. This surprised me. I thought when the tough times come; Americans make it okay by praying to God and being connected with Him. But this is not the case. Not many people pray. People here think they can do it by themselves. This saddens me, because I am a man of faith. I know I cannot do it except by the grace and power of God.