FIRST-PERSON: Deliver us from the evil in America
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- The continual shootings in America are unprecedented and they are evidence of a desperate need for a spiritual awakening in this country.
Whether the shootings in America are related to terror, work, race, family, mental illness, or hate, they are killings. Violent. Lawless. Evil.
This lawlessness cannot be solved by legislation, but by the power of the love of Jesus Christ to destroy the evil in our hearts.
More than one evil shooting a day
The New York Times addressed the San Bernardino killings as the 354th mass shooting in America this year. The Times stated, "Since January, there have been at least 354 such cases in about 220 cities in 47 states, according to shootingtracker.com."
In response to the San Bernardino mass shooting, The Washington Post stated, "The Mass Shooting Tracker is different from other shooting databases in that it uses a broader definition of mass shooting -- the old FBI definition focused on four or more people killed as part of a single shooting."
In fact, both the New York Times and Washington Post illustrate graphically the shootings that have occurred in 2015.
Others can debate the terminology and statistics regarding what comprises a mass shooting. Regardless, we cannot deny we are seeing people shoot and kill others at a rate of more than one a day.
This is pure evil. It is a spiritual problem.
The human heart and the forces of hell
What is the cause of this shooting spree in our nation? Opinions abound, every one is expressed passionately, and they are debated continually. Yet, almost no one discusses the real problem, which is much deeper.
The problem is the condition of the human heart, as affirmed by the Holy Scripture in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable -- who can understand it?"
The human heart has the potential to express evil in unimaginable ways.
We are experiencing this today. While each of these shootings is occurring in different cities and for different reasons, the root problem is consistent in each of them -- the evil condition of the human heart.
Jesus Himself answered a question from His disciples about various signs that will point toward His coming and the end of the age. One of these glaring signs Jesus gave to them is stated in Matthew 24:12, "Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold."
This is the evil we are witnessing in our time. Lawlessness is multiplying. The love of many is growing cold. Everything we are seeing relating to the devaluation of human life from an epidemic of abuse to the coldhearted murder of innocent people begins with the condition of the human heart.
I believe the Bible speaks clearly about the powerful force of Satan and his demonic forces, and a weak, sinful and evil human heart is vulnerable to the evil forces of hell. The Bible states in 1 Peter 5:8, "Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour."
Be assured, Satan is alive and well, scheming against each person who is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, and stoking the fire of hate in the hearts of those who chase after violence.
I believe Satan is especially and continually scheming against America because of our Christian heritage. His goal is to destroy our lives, our nation and all it represents. This is why evil abounds not only inside of our nation, but also from outside our nation.
America is becoming more susceptible and vulnerable to our enemies when we fail to listen to the words of Psalm 11:3, "When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"
The foundation of our nation is strong, but with every attack on that foundation, our nation suffers. Presently, America seems to be experiencing a season of unrestrained and unrelenting attack.
The hope for America
On December 2, 2015, an op-ed was printed in The Wall Street Journal by its owner -- Rupert Murdoch -- who is also the executive chairman of News Corporation. Rupert Murdoch had received the Hudson Institute's Global Leadership Award, and the op-ed, which was titled "America the Indispensable," was an excerpt of his remarks in that gathering.
Murdoch's remarks are worthy of the attention of America.
He called for, "Reviving our sense of direction and celebrating America's exceptional nature." Then he stated these words that captured my attention: "Around our country, there is a restless desire for revival." He is speaking not of a spiritual revival, but a revival of our nation that is in, as Murdoch called it, "a slow descent."
I appreciated his dynamic words and his call to our nation.
Yet, my call to America would take his concern one step further -- to a revival of the human heart. I love America and believe in our future greatly. But the evil we are seeing unrestrained in our nation today will not find its answer politically, socially, materially, nor financially. Rather, it all begins in the heart.
My hope is in the Gospel
The condition of the human heart discovers its cure only in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we repent of our sin and by faith turn to Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven completely. A spiritual transformation occurs within us, changing us from the inside out.
We must share, speak, write and preach the Gospel to people and in places where the Gospel has never been before, across our nation and world.
My hope is in the revival of the church
I believe there is a restlessness also occurring in the church that is desirous of an unprecedented move of God like we have never seen before. Spiritual revival in the church is our hope.
When the church desires this move of God and seeks the God who can give it, then we will become even more convicted of the need to pray for ourselves and for our nation the powerful words of Jesus from the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:13, "…deliver us from the evil one."
The church needs to get prayer back in the church. We need our churches to become houses of prayer as Jesus said we must be. The church must become the leader in praying, "Deliver us from the evil in America." It is the church that must lead the way in praying for the security in our nation.
My hope is in a great spiritual awakening
I am often asked, "Dr. Floyd, have you given up on America?" I respond immediately, "Absolutely not!" I have not given up on America because I believe in a God who can do anything, anytime, anywhere, with anyone.
This includes America. A great spiritual awakening is the greatest hope for America. This is our hope.
Lord, deliver us from the evil in America.