Published January 26, 2016

Paul's Epistle

During Sunday's Listener Favorite Call-In (thanks to those of you who called, by the way), several callers requested the current radio song from Wilburn & Wilburn called "You Asked Him To Leave."

It's a most unusual and timely song. As Jonathan Wilburn described it on a recent broadcast, "It's a song that deals with the things in America today where we've pretty much said, ‘OK, God, we don't want you to have any part of this. We don't want God in this, we don't want God mentioned. Leave God out. We don't want to recognize God at the football game. We don't want to recognize God at the school. We don't want to recognize God in our country, on our money, anywhere...'"

The song recounts how references to God are being systematically removed from public places and institutions. Then, the song reminds us that many people – when there are school shootings or other such violence – say, "Why did God let this happen? Where was God when this happened?" The song answers, "He wasn't there; remember, you asked Him to leave."

Many have pointed out the correlation between the removal of prayer in the public schools by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1963 and the subsequent sharp increase in school violence. Coincidence? Not likely.

Those of us who attended school before 1963 can remember a very different time. In my inner-city public grade school, our opening "daily exercises" included the reading aloud of a chapter from the Bible, recitation of the Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. (Do they even do that anymore?) At very least, the Scripture and prayer engendered respect for God and His Word. That's all gone now.

The song, though, is not without controversy. I'm told that some radio stations have refused to play that song. There seem to be two primary objections.

First, the song is not "politically correct." No kidding. I don't need to say anything more about that, I'm sure.

The second objection some are making to the song is when the song says, "He [God] wasn't there..." when violence struck the schools or other public places. Well, of course God was there. God is everywhere. He is omnipresent. And He certainly is there with every individual believer through the Holy Spirit. But the song is simply trying to make a point that Scripture itself makes.

We must remember that God works where He is invited to do so. Jesus illustrated this when He visited Nazareth and spoke with the people there – in His boyhood hometown, nonetheless. But, sadly, as Matthew 13:58 tells us, "He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief." This was especially startling in comparison with all of the miracles He was doing elsewhere. Usually when He healed someone, He would credit their faith: "Your faith has made you whole." There was apparently far too little faith in Nazareth.

Today's problem, strictly speaking, is not that God – prayer and Bible reading – have been removed from the schools. The problem is the attitude this removal has engendered in society at large. The respect for God that even public schools once encouraged – since our nation's earliest days, in fact – is, for the most part, gone. In fact, the pendulum has swung the other direction — to anti-God. The secularization of our society has been vastly accelerated over the past few decades. And the fruit of that secularization is being seen in the sharp increase in violence and other godless behavior. There is, once again, "too little faith."

But the principle to remember is that God works where He is invited to do so. This is the way He works in individual lives. He wants to be invited. We invite Him to forgive us and live in us through His Holy Spirit. We ask Him, through prayer, to work in our individual lives. And, in the spirit of Romans 8:28, He does.

But our society at large, which once invited God to be a part of public functions, increasingly has disinvited Him from being a part of our society. Although He certainly could, God is far too much of a Gentleman to go where He's not wanted.

Pray that eyes will be opened to what's been lost – and how much there is to gain by turning, once again, to the Lord.

- Paul

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