Don’t get me wrong. I feel tremendous sympathy for the people that are suffering from the destruction left by Sandy. But having lived in that part of the country for five years of my life, I can tell you that this is the great proving ground of the idea of government as god. In the five years that I lived in the Hudson Valley of New York, I had the chance to meet a lot of people. In one church that we attended, we even went door-to-door in the neighborhoods around the church to meet people, determine their needs, and to invite people to church. Knocking on those doors, I found, not surprisingly, that most of the people were very secular in their lives, depending on their self-sufficiency, connections, or on government to meet all their needs, and they were very suspicious of “organized religion.” I might have told them that we were a very disorganized religion, but I’m not sure the joke would have been received well judging from many of the barely civil encounters.
If you discount the pockets of very religious people such as Hassids, Amish, Mennonites, or devout Catholics or Protestants, and you were to conduct a poll, I’m sure you would find that the majority of people in the northeast as a whole, are primarily secular; they have no room for God in their lives except for the few moments when some of them might attend church at Christmas and Easter to “get their religion.” This has not always been true of the area, though. Remember that this was the area where many Protestant sects settled, including the Pilgrims (who were Separatists, believing that the Anglican and Catholic churches were too corrupt for effective revival and renewal), Quakers (another separatist Protestant group), and Puritans (who believed that the Anglican church could be reformed from within, just as the Lutherans originally believed the Catholic church could be reformed from within). Of course, there were more secular-minded people settling in the northeast colonies, but the vast majority that originally settled the area and the other colonies were very religious people, and this is evident in the government charters of the 13 original colonies as well as the numerous colleges, universities, and primary/secondary schools that were set up at first to teach people about the Bible and Christian living.
But the original fervor gradually waned with material success, technological advancement, and freedom. People became proud, thinking that they were successful because of their own efforts. Many in the Northeast flirted for a while with secularized or “enlightened” religions that cherry-picked their doctrines such as the Unitarians, but they even grew bored with that in time, settling into a primarily secular lifestyles devoid of any touch of Christianity. They grew accustomed to having the god of government provide all their needs and solve all their problems. But they have built their house upon sand (Mat. 7:26-27), and you can see it in the frantic hopelessness and bewilderment of many in the aftermath of Sandy. The god of government is failing them miserably. This is not to say that tragedy does not strike Christian’s lives, but when we are beset by troubles, we do not fall to pieces or turn on our fellow man in a survival of the fittest. When the storms hit us, we have the peace that passes all understanding because we are on the sure foundation of a loving and omnipotent God. We know that he will take care of us so that we can look the worst tragedies in the face and still have peace within our hearts, not peace of our own making, but a peace that was placed there by the Holy Spirit who indwells us. And we can be compassionate in the midst of tragedy because God places His Agape love within our hearts to serve others even in the worst of times.