given on Sunday, July 6, 2014
Battling Today’s ‘Corrosive Culture’
July 6, 2014
The headline read:
‘Corrosive Culture’ Cited:
Poor management, low morale, distrust and retaliation
are among issues found in review of nationwide system
The term ‘corrosive culture’ struck my heart. The descriptor sent cold chills up and down my spine. How in the world could our nation turn from being the world’s leader in social justice, humanitarian aide, and democracy be described as ‘corrosive’?
Unfortunately, another term I heard about 20 years ago had caused almost the same reaction: litigation society. The superintendent of Wentworth Military Academy used that in a casual conversation in which I was included. At the time, the discussion concerned how we were to conduct discipline at the academy honoring the parents’ expectations and what students really needed. The culture was changing and a military academy needed to make some adjustments.
Change is never easy, yet the changes our society has been making are certainly not following the Christian standards exemplified by Jesus. The laws are becoming so complicated that such a simple basic as God’s one commandment becomes lost.
Corrosive culture. The phrase just sums up so much in so many ways. The article itself was focusing on the terrible reports of the Veterans’ Administration of the healthcare system meant to provide for the veterans of all arms and all times of service to this country. As terrible as the investigation reports on the health care system have been, that term honestly applies to a much broader culture than one system.
Of course the deterioration of a culture is not a new problem nor will it ever be eliminated when good and evil continue to battle. John Wesley saw a corrosive culture among the working poor in England, and he determined to show how God’s love can handle the problems while also attacking the source of the problem.
Wesley became God’s hands as he stepped out of the church building and went to the people with needs—food, shelter, and clothing Obtaining the basics of life was as difficult for the working poor in the 1600s as much as it is today. What is different is how globally aware we are due to the immediacy of communication from any point in this world to our own homes in just a span of seconds. We hear it. We see it. We react.
Or do we. Do we react or do we distance ourselves from the corrosion of another facet of the globe’s culture? Are we following Jesus’ example and exercising our Christian authority to intervene in the corrosive effect on our culture?
During the 1960’s when Vietnam was the country’s focus, or when the Civil Rights movement seemed to shake our own neighborhoods, the Methodist Church was in mission. Remember how the Methodist Women were studying the different 3rd world culture, the materials kept introducing new countries, new problems, and I even remember, new food types, as we bought canned tamales and taste-tested them at a dinner.
What happened since then? Have we become lulled into a sense of safety and security? Have world problems eased up? Have we heard from God that everything around us is ok and we can let up? Or have we just closed our eyes and ears to what is around us?
While looking through the little book last week, God Bless America, I started reading and thinking about the different categories, I found an entire section on “justice.” Reading through those Bible verses and reflections, I kept thinking what do I do that addresses the ‘corrosive’ culture and keeps us developing our own faith. The search was on.
The phrase from Hosea 12:6, now at the top of our bulletin, seems so simple and so defining: “. . . hold fast to love and justice”. Hosea, a prophet from the Old Testament, becomes an example of God’s vast love and compassion for his children. He demonstrates how love can overcome so many trials in one’s life, and he also knows that God’s judgment is not human judgment.
During the next few weeks, Hosea will guide us in the art of love and justice. Never does one outgrow or outlive the ability to love as Jesus taught us. Never does one lose the ability to fight for justice even in a corrosive culture. We have no excuse to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to what happens in the culture around us. We are equipped to stop the corrosion because we have God on our side and the Holy Spirit within us.
Today, renew your relationship with God. Remember your baptism when you accepted Christ into your life. Remember how you raised your kids, and how you pray your grandchildren come to know God. We have the power, we just need to learn how to use it no matter what the calendar says, no matter what our worldly interests are, or what we fear.
The complaints of the corrosive culture can only be addressed if we take a stand and act. Take the challenge. Listen for God. Pray when the reports are corrosive. Write letters when a change needs to be made. Make a determined effort to share your faith with others who need hope. Return to being a proactive Christian. Use the power God gives you to protect our Christian, our American culture.
Listen to the words from Hosea 12:6
But as for you, return to your God,
hold fast to love and justice,
and wait continually for your God.
This is our Christian authority and our Christian responsibility—stop the corrosion. Today, as we share in the bread and the wine, pray. Pray for your own directions. Pray for our nation. Pray for our world.
Dear loving and just Father,
We are at your command.
We know you see all the corrosion
And hear all the complaining,
We know you sent Jesus to teach us
And to demonstrate your love.
We are ready to recommit
To the call you have for us.
We know you stand beside us
And we have nothing to fear.
Guide us in the days ahead.
Grow our love to overflowing.
Let us become your tool
In battling the corrosive culture
Now and forever. –Amen