Life is a magnificent thing. Sometimes scary, sometimes exciting, sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly, sometimes lovely, sometimes stunning, sometimes joyous, other times strenuous. The question we so often wonder about is: What can we do to help? What is the solution to the problems and sufferings? Something deep within all of us knows that this is not how the world was meant to be. We all tend to know. We see injustice and we become indignant and troubled. We feel the burden. And we want to know how to change things for the better.
Yet we often find ourselves matching our desire to help with our desire to feel good. Theologians and philosophers have called this drive for “good feels” the “pleasure ethic.” The pleasure ethic is huge with my generation. One of my friends in high school, a girl I liked proudly back then declared that she was a “hedonist.” Whatever feels good, do it. This pleasure ethic is at the heart of the post-modernist mentality. Meaninglessness just gives a free reign to it. It attempts to strip away “shame.” Shame, the age old feeling we feel when we do something wrong, and our conscience tells us “this is wrong.” Its an uncomfortable feeling, but it’s a good thing we have it. When a child put’s his hand on a hot stove, it burns the skin causing damage, but it also triggers pain, which helps the child to know not to do such a thing again. It’s much the same with shame when we do something wrong.
Today, I find myself in Lynchburg, Virginia. At Liberty University’s 42nd commencement. I’m graduating with two degrees, an associates of Interdisciplinary Studies and a bachelors (of science) in Religion. I’m graduating Magna Cum laude. And as the speaker Pastor Falwell said Sunday, “every degree today is not your victory, but a gift of the grace of God.” Truly truly. The grounds of Liberty are beautiful, and the opening at the commencement baccalaureate service lead me to lean over to my parents and whisper: “Liberty university, last hope for western civilization.”
As the noted 20th century journalist Malcom Muggeridge put it, western civilization has had the dubious acclaim of training it’s destroyers at it’s own academic institutions. Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. spoke regarding the honoring of the Lord at Liberty University commencement. He told of how four of the greatest universities in the United States were all founded as Christian Universities: Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Brown University. He explained how the mottos of those great institutions were phrases like “Light and Truth” (Yale) and “In God we Hope” (Brown). And the motto of Oxford University: “The Lord is my light.” Princeton’s motto he said to this day remains: “Under the Protection of God She Flourishes.” Yet somehow over the years naturalists managed to capture and convert those universities into bastions of atheism and secularism. Troubling indeed, which led me to the conclusion, places like Liberty University are the last hope for western civilization.
The atheist, marxist, freudians marching to the tune of the pleasure ethic behind a faustian “free spirit” sort of altruism may just bring western civilization screeching to a halt. Look at how as Europe abandons the Christian ethic, they find their economies crumbling due to corruption and debt. Much like countries like India, North Korea, and Brazil have ample resources, yet struggle with corruption in government and class society where the rich trample on the poor and wield government against the working class. It’s sad really. Yet we all try for answers. Both conservatives and liberals see there is a serious problem.
I was once a dedicated Democrat, in college at the University of Wisconsin extension. This was before I became a Christian. I was at one time the treasurer of a group called the “College Democrats” on campus. I voted and supported candidates like John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008. I volunteered and went door to door to support Obama for the presidency. Why? I thought Democrats held the superior ethic. I had been told that. Obama campaigned on returning to the Constitution. He campaigned on ending the expensive wars, and reigning in the corruption on Wallstreet. Most importantly he campaigned on restoring civil liberties and ending the Patriot Act’s abuses of American freedoms. The presidency of George W. Bush had been an abuse of liberty and justice. I wanted change. He said all the right things, but now in 2015, it’s clear Obama did the opposite of almost everything he said he would do. He increased the government surveillance and attacks on civil liberties. His administration attacked whistle blowers while at the same time he gave lip service to protecting them. He said lobbyists would have no place in his administration, yet his administration has lobbyists in almost every key position. Sad really. I had been taught that Republicans were all corrupt corporatist war mongers. And to a certain extent, that was true at times. Both parties have at times been troubled by immense corruption. Democrats in the past supported the slavery of African Americans. Massive amounts of money pour into both parties today. Though I was a staunch liberal for many years, during college I slowly came around to conservative Libertarian views on politics. I lobbied for more 3rd party action in the presidential and congressional races. I wanted more voices of accountability.
After becoming a Christian I realized that the problem was not between parties or ideologies. The problem was the state of man. The problem was not just government, or corporate/banking institutions. It wasn’t even the corrupt news media, Hollywood, or television media. The problem was more basic and universal than that, the problem was the heart of man itself. That heart, universal in it’s state, needed an outside force to change it within. There was no other solution. The solution was simple: Jesus Christ, genuinely received, in reality.
All of that to say, we all need Jesus, and Liberty University carries strong that message. And why is that so vital? Because Liberty University trains young people. Young people are the future of the nation. Young people are the future of the western world. Young people can change the world. Young people can do anything.
Therefore, young people are the real game changers. The energy, the power, the future all belong to young people. Yet my generation is maligned by the pleasure ethic, thinking it will bring satisfaction. It does not! It brings emptiness, sadness, disappointment, and regret. The pleasure ethic is dead. It holds nothing of lasting value. The pleasure ethic is dead. And Jesus Christ is alive.
O. S. Hawkins the speaker at the opening commencement service encouraged graduates like myself to be influencers. He said “You’ve been granted a field of influence.” And truly we have. We’re the future of the United States. I mourn because so many of the people my age have been sold on secular lies, and the endless pursuit of the pleasure ethic through sex, drugs, drinking, binge eating, clubs, parties, sports, and pursuit of achievement. You name it, we’ve been fed it, by those trying to make money off our poor decisions. We’ve been educated many of us, on total foolishness. Yet now is the time to stand.
My work on this blog, the things I write, are often in the hope of triggering a revolution. I want to help young people, young adults to see the truth of how to save this world: Jesus Christ. I want young people to rise up, and become the game changers of western society. I want to see us retake our countries, our homes from the corrupt spiritual forces that lay waste to our future.
Christianity is the hope of that future. Anyone properly apprised of history can see such. I want you to be a game changer with me. I want you to stand for principles, values, morals, and ethics. These things have been jettisoned from our society by fools. We must bring them back, somehow, someway, God willing.
Thank God for Liberty University, and the gift it’s given me to see the hope of western man: Jesus Christ. I met Jesus Christ in hopelessness and addiction, having exhausted the pleasure ethic of every smidgen of joy it could bring to utter bankruptcy. Then Jesus Christ, and today a drug addict, alcoholic with nothing 2.5 years ago now graduates with high honors from a division one college. That is all thanks to the grace, love, and new life provided by Jesus Christ. He never changes. He is present, he is God, he is alive. There is hope left.
We need to move in a revolution of thought, deed, action, in firm character, principled action, bold proclamation, and ecstatic love. Let’s get missional, get active, stand firm, and stand as one. We can’t be stopped, we’re the young, we’re the future, let’s make it a good one.
All of us young people feel an ache whenever we see corruption. When we see something we know is wrong, we desire to champion the cause of those who are being oppressed. Proverb 22:15 (ESV) says “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” I pray justice will be done in the great nation of the United States once more. It all starts with young people. And we have been sold a million lies as truth, and we’ve been told that Christianity is the lie. But what if the one lie is actually the truth? What if it means taking a hard look at who we really are, and how we really live? What if it means embracing a new ethic? If that brings justice, truth, and peace of heart, then I say… let us begin. Yet our hearts will fight us on this, and they will call out in anger, and want to deny any mention of God. Yet we can see what that does to a nation where immorality reigns. It is destroying the United States, and western civilization morally and more recently, economically. Despite what our youthful hearts may say in rebellion, we must force our wills to turn to God, to turn to Christ, and give up on selfishness, the pleasure ethic, and the pride of trying to deify ourselves, and instead, turn to Jesus, be united with Jesus, and through so doing, discover who we truly are.
Isaiah 45:22 (ESV) says ““Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”
Our hearts rebel against the thought so often, yet deep down we know.. God is real. He is the truth. We are not the gods. He is God alone. I pray you’ll soften your heart to embrace this. And quickly, because time is running out. Amen.
Liberty University 2015 Baccalaureate Service – Jerry Falwell
Liberty University 2015 Baccalaureate Service – O. S. Hawkins
Liberty University 2015 Commencement Service – Jerry Falwell
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