Why I Am Deeply Hopeful for America
by Eric Metaxas
In a recent book, my friend Greg Laurie carefully documents how Steve McQueen in his last years became an ardent Jesus-follower and churchgoer who wanted to use his fame to share Jesus with the world, but who fell ill before he could, and who literally died holding Billy Graham’s own Bible in his hands. How had the world never heard of this before?
I feel that a kind of secular filter has developed over the last fifty years or so, and the mass media have largely—sometimes scandalously—ignored some of the most amazing stories of our time, principally because they tend to be uncomfortable talking about anything touching on faith—sometimes because of an embarrassing ignorance of theological matters, and other times for fear of how it will be perceived by their preponderantly secular colleagues. But as a result, most Americans have missed some tremendously important things about the reality and role of faith in history and culture.
I grew up missing many of these things. In fact, I held the whole question of God at some arm’s length until my mid-twenties (as told in my memoir, Fish Out of Water). It was only because of my book on William Wilberforce that I discovered it was almost exclusively serious Christians who launched the abolitionist movements in Europe and America. But I have discovered much more along similar lines, such as the fact that civil rights leaders such as Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks were devoutly Christian, and that their heroic faith played the central role in their achievements. The film 42 about Robinson’s life omits this, and the otherwise excellent Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line also bizarrely omits the central fact of Cash’s life: that it was his “born-again” experience with Jesus—and the strong faith of his wife, June—that pulled him out of the living hell of drug abuse and made him the man he eventually became, and who often played at Billy Graham crusades as a way of being public about his transformation. I was also stunned to learn that minutes after Apollo 11 landed, Buzz Aldrin took communion on the moon and read the words of Jesus aloud in the Lunar Module, which I eventually had the privilege of discussing with him.
Will faith continue to play a role in our culture? I’ve heard it said that Judeo-Christian values are passing away, the church is being marginalized, and here comes the Great Reset. No doubt some basis exists for drawing these conclusions, and I often warn of the dangers we’ll face if we don’t speak out now. But I am deeply hopeful for the church, for America, and for the world, and here’s why.
Jesus frequently talked about “the kingdom of heaven” and described it by telling parables. Scholars have spent their lives studying this topic, but here is one simple observation: Jesus never describes the kingdom of heaven as being in retreat. In Matthew 13:31-32, Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” So, basically, the kingdom of heaven is like a tiny seed that grew and became large, then wilted, and then the end comes. Right? Of course not! Jesus then gives another one in verse 33: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Until how much was leavened? All. In the simplest of terms, God’s purposes will advance until they’ve gotten all the way through.
Another source of encouragement for me is that over the last year, I’ve seen people pray more, and in more profound ways, than I’ve ever seen in my life. For example, I participate in prayer calls with the “World Prayer Network” (https://worldprayernetwork.org/), in which people around the world spend hours praying for America and for the world each week. Personally, I’ve had the amazing experience of being sustained and carried along by the prayers of people I’ve never met, who have volunteered to pray regularly for me and my family.
I encourage you to join a prayer group, or join our prayer calls! His purposes are advancing, and “if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
Eric Metaxas lives in New York City with his family. He is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Martin Luther, If You Can Keep It, Bonhoeffer, Amazing Grace, and Miracles. His latest work is a literary memoir titled Fish Out of Water: A Search for the Meaning of Life. Eric has written more than thirty children’s books, and his books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages. He is the host of The Eric Metaxas Show, a nationally syndicated daily radio show heard on 300 stations nationwide and aired on television on TBN. You can find out more about Eric and visit his website at EricMetaxas.com, or find him on most social media websites at @ericmetaxas.
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