If Britain's prime minister David Cameron is serious about restoring that nation's moral compass, as he stated following nearly a week of riots and mayhem there, he needs to first look at the man in the mirror.
This is not a personal attack on a public figure. It is a statement of fact that can be applied to any man or woman -- every man or woman.
There has long been a cry for revival, in the church and among the nations. The cry to return to the social values of the generations that preceded ours has echoed across our nation for years -- a cry that, just as the echo goes unanswered, is heard but not heeded.
Gov. Rick Perry, now officially a candidate for the presidency, provides the most recent voice, echoing again the call for revival, with his prayer rally Aug. 6. Some 30,000 people were reportedly in attendance as Perry said, "He's [God is] calling all Americans, of all walks of life, to seek him, to return to him, to experience his love and his grace and his acceptance."
Whether or not Perry is successful in his bid for the Republican nomination, he, at least, got one thing right by including "all Americans" in his remarks, especially if he included himself right along with the rest of us.
Michael Jackson's music played in the background of my life as a teen and young adult, some songs more memorable than others - but his 1988 recording of Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard's "Man in the Mirror," remains in my personal top ten favorites of the many Jackson hits. The chorus contains the phrase, "If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change."
Cameron and Perry and many, many others of similar status would do well to heed those words. We all would.
Although Jesus frequently addressed crowds of people (how could he not, they followed him everywhere), his personal interactions had the most profound effect. The woman at the well was forever changed, as was Zacchaeus, and so many others.
It is still true. Faith is an extremely personal thing, the experience is as unique in each individual as is the individual. It's a matter of the heart and only God can know the heart of any man; of every man. And so, we come to faith first in our hearts as an individual -- impacted and influenced by others, to be sure, but the works of repentance and regeneration are the works of the Holy Spirit, not of any man. And it is an ongoing process that requires our ongoing willingness to submit to the work of regeneration and sanctification on a daily basis. Hence the need to start with the "Man in the Mirror," today and every day.
If we are to return to the social mores that provided the foundation for this nation; if America is to return to her once lauded position as a people known for their integrity, their uprightness, their open-handed generosity, we don't need a nationwide revival. We don't need a corporate prayer event. We don't even need to put in an appearance on Sunday mornings to hear how others have overcome the same obstacles we face.
We need to take a look at the man in our mirror and see how we measure up to the teachings of the One who conquered sin and death, thereby providing sight to the blind, and understanding to hearts calloused by sin. Get to know him. He already knows you. He loves you. He is our only hope. He is your only hope.
"'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" Isaiah 1:18 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.