In Part 1 of this series I presented my belief that the Church has for the most part abdicated its position of moral authority in the American culture. Nature abhors a vacuum and thus the hedonists, atheists, humanists, and unconverted self-identifying Christians rushed in to fill that place with their morality. The result is that any vain and evil thing that can be imagined is advocated as normal and celebrated as liberating and natural today. The only liberty and freedom these deviants and their supporters are experiencing is liberty and freedom from conscience. Doctors include this trait in their diagnosis of sociopaths. God describes them as “worthy of death” (Romans 1:32).
As with every anniversary of the deadly events of September 11, 2001, we will likely be inundated this week with a plethora of articles on the heroes from that day and those that gave their lives that others might live. Though we, as a nation, will never forget the events of that day and the impact it had on our nation, we need look no further than the disaster that struck recently in South Texas, and the events now unfolding throughout Florida and the Southeast to understand that it is a remarkable part of the American spirit to face adversity with a steadfast courage and open heart for those in need. Though I write this article on this, the 16th anniversary of that day in 2001, I am not going to write about those events, the controversy surrounding it, or even about the events of the most recent natural disasters in our country. I prefer to write about my own experience, and those of my family, to illustrate the point that I will make at the conclusion of this article.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11
One of the most blessed things Christians are privileged to participate in is the life of a local assembly of believers. It might surprise readers to learn that the Bible in both Testaments speaks almost exclusively within the context of local bodies. The Old Testament speaks specifically about the nation, tribes, and families of the Hebrew people. Their story of failure and success in being obedient to God and in becoming the people He desired them to be is a primary storyline of the Old Testament. The New Testament reads like a manual for righteous living within the context of the local church family.
Think about this friends – Matthew wrote for a Jewish audience, Mark a Gentile audience, Luke for the benefit of Theophilus, John to Christians generally speaking, Paul to the churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossae to name a few. One thing these letters have in common with the possible exception of Luke is that they were written to churches. One could argue that Paul’s letters to Timothy were written to an individual believer but even then Paul was instructing Timothy on how to handle issues within the body of believers.
One of the effects that we see playing out before us, whether on our TV screens or on the streets of this nation, of the long term and incremental destruction of the traditional family unit and model is the loss of what I refer to as the wisdom chain within our families. The wisdom chain is what I term the old model that was once prominent in America, and still is in some other cultures, of three generations of a family living together. Sometimes this came in the form of actually inhabiting the same home, and sometimes just in the form of regular gatherings. It is a model in which the grandparents acted as the patriarchs and matriarchs of the family, the holders of wisdom. The parents were the provider generation, providing for both the children and the grandparents who were now too old to work. Lastly, there were the children who were the benefactors of both the wisdom of the grandparents and the provision of the parents. This wisdom chain worked to provide for the passing down of the wisdom of the elder generation and instilling in the youngest generation the values and morals that they would need when assuming their position as the provider generation, and then eventually they would pass their wisdom on once they had moved into the role as patriarchs and matriarchs of their own families.
There can be little doubt that as a society we are experiencing both a profound lack of wisdom and a powerful level of adversity. In a time of trial, the robust and antifragile person must be able to recognize the signals that adversity provides. There is great meaning in being able to develop wisdom through adversity. How can we accomplish this feat while avoiding the undeniably potent capability of adversity to destroy wisdom? What do our worldviews suggest about how we should approach this challenging hour?