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My Message of Hope for an America That’s Forgotten How to Love
America’s been swallowed up by selfishness and entitlement, but there’s one thing that gives me hope.
On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy said the following in his inaugural address:
Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.
I was never a fan of JFK, but this quote is a pretty good one. It resonated with most Americans in 1961 because it suggested that all citizens are better served when we look out for the welfare of the country before we look out for our own. My own father was a member of the Greatest Generation, and they put this kind of sacrificial service into action. They were able to fight and defeat two powerful armies simultaneously because they put the welfare of the nation above their own.
But we’re at a place in the evolution of our culture where self-sacrifice has been replaced by self-interest. In 2023, Americans are no longer unified by their passion for preserving the republic but by their passion for finding their identity in superficial things like ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class.
The result is that we don’t have a common bond that glues us together anymore. Not that we were ever perfectly united, but at least we had something we could point to and say, “This is what we’re striving for.” And we’re more divided than we’ve been in a long time.
It might be too late for America to go back 62 years and pick up where Kennedy left off. But it’s not too late for us to revisit this idea on an individual level. After thinking about for a bit, I think we should just chuck Kennedy’s advice and open our Bibles because 2,000 years before JFK came along, the Holy Spirit was saying the same thing.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
—1 John 3:16-17
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
This kind of sacrificial love for our fellow man is uncommon in America today. We’re a more entitled society than we were in 1961. More self-absorbed, I think. I went down that path myself:
We can’t do much about the direction of the society as a whole. To be honest, changing the entire culture is way above my pay grade and yours too. Besides, Jesus never commissioned us to that. What he did command us to do is to tell the people we meet about him — about the freedom God offers us through our faith in Jesus.
I’m just taking them one at a time. People come to see me when they’re at the end of their rope, so I just preach the Gospel to them. I tell them about the God who was born in a barn, raised by a carpenter, died for the sins of the people, and was raised from the dead by the power of God. I tell them they can have freedom from guilt and shame, from sin, and from their fear of the grave — simply by entrusting their futures to Jesus and following him.
In other words, I tell them about the God who demonstrated the same kind of self-sacrificial love that the above verses tell us to display in our lives. We’re commanded to lay down our lives for others, carry one another’s burdens, and to value others above ourselves because these qualities perfectly reflect the nature of God. He’s already done what he’s commanding us to do.
I don’t know what the future holds for the United States of America. In my opinion, the future doesn’t look bright the more we go down the path of self-centeredness. But I’m hopeful we can reach enough people with the Gospel that it changes the direction this country’s going in.
Regardless of where the rest of America is heading, I’m going to just keep on plugging along and proclaiming the name that is above all names. I’m going to keep on telling people I run into along the way about Jesus of Nazareth.
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