One of my favorite musical writers is a man named Michael Card. A number of years ago he wrote a song called the Spirit of the Age that expressed his frustration with the tragic events that seemed to dominate his cultural experience …
I thought that I heard crying coming through my door
Was it Rachel weeping for her sons who were no more
Could it have been the babies crying for themselves
Never understanding that they died for someone else
No way of understanding this sad and painful sign
Whenever Satan rears his head, there comes a tragic time
If He could crush the cradle, then that would stop the cross
He knew that once the Light was born, his every hope was lost
Now every age has heard it, this voice that speaks from Hell
Sacrifice your children and for you it will be well
The subtle serpent’s lying, his dark and ruthless rage
Behold, it is revealed to be the spirit of the age
A voice is heard of weeping and of wailing
History speaks of it on every page
Of innocent and helpless little babies
Offerings to the spirit of the age
We have experienced difficult times in the past, but this summer has been particularly challenging. A few weeks ago, police officers in different states were involved in the shooting deaths of two African-American men which led to violent protests across many of the major cities in the country centered on how American law enforcement responds to the African-American community (this is a continuation of protests that have been going on for at least a couple of years). These events were followed by the targeted murder of five police officers during a protest in the city of Dallas. President Obama ended his involvement in a European summit to visit the site of the tragic event and to call for an end to the violence.
Tragedy has not been confined to the United States. In Nice, France, we all watched on social media as an Islamist terrorist drove a truck through a crowd that had gathered to celebrate Bastille Day and killed more than 80 men, women and children. Finally, three more police officers were targeted and killed in Louisiana last week. Every morning the news reports seem to contain more frustration, anger and rage, and it appears to be the norm for our time.
It is easy to feel powerless and helpless as one sits and listens to the news or hears about events in various social media sites. Several people have asked me: “How should we (George Fox University) respond?” Our university pastor, Jamie Noling-Auth, constantly reminds us that we should pray. A former president, Levi Pennington, reminded the community in the midst of World War II that we need to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” knowing that in God’s time and in God’s way it will be fulfilled. We can have confidence in that promise even though we may not see that day.
The central story of the Bible is the Incarnation; God came, in the form of a child, to live with his creation. An infinite God reached down into humanity and walked with them. He brought justice, peace and healing and through the cross redemption to all who would call on his name. In a similar vein, he calls his people to be a faithful presence of his peace and mercy into their communities. In an age in which many leaders further the rage and anger, Christians are called by Christ to be living agents of his peace in the midst of violence (both physical and emotional). We need to be active in our work, particularly locally (partnering with local agencies, being present in our churches, etc.) but also globally as we seek to be reconciling people amidst the chaos that may surround us.
Card’s song ends with the hope that Dr. Pennington noted in his message. We work to bring God’s peace in our time, but we know and claim the promise that his peace will rule.
Soon all the ones who seemed to die for nothing
Will stand beside the Ancient of Days
With joy we’ll see that Infant from a manger
Come and crush the spirit of the age
We’ll see Him crush the spirit of the age
Michael Card – Spirit Of The Age