When I first heard the expression, my immediate thought was this: “That’s it!” That fits perfectly with what I see around me. I’m referring to Os Guinness’ description of current western culture as a “Cut-flower civilization.”
Such a condition, he says, is the direct result of the cutting off of its Judeo-Christian roots. Guinness, an author and defender of the Christian faith, explains that while our culture still exudes some beauty from the past, it’s quickly fading away as a cut flower in a vase of water.
Putting it in my own words, I would say that cut flower people are those who believe they can continue the ideals of liberty and freedom without the roots that made them possible in the first place. They tear down monuments containing the Ten Commandments seemingly unaware that many of these decrees form the basis for the very laws that protect their freedoms.
Our freedoms, the sanctity of life and all our laws are rooted in the belief of a Creator who gives life and establishes morals to protect and preserve life. A nation cannot exist without laws. The foundation for our nation (as well as our freedoms and rights) is the Judeo-Christian worldview of our founders. Just like a flower cut from its roots, our culture has cut itself off from the very source that brought it the liberties and freedoms it enjoys.
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence begins with these words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Today’s prevailing belief that our rights come from the government runs contrary to that of our founding fathers who wisely saw that the tendency of the state is to restrict freedoms, not grant them. Although some are threatened, our basic rights remain intact (at least for now).
Unless we return to seeing God as both the Giver of life and our rights, our liberties will fade just as surely as a flower cut off from its life-giving roots. Our freedoms cannot survive indefinitely in the current environment. We see the unmistakable signs of this withering all around us.
What are the signs of the withering? First, truth no longer matters. I struggle to know what to believe; fake news confronts me everywhere I look. People have no qualms about lying to prove their point; it’s all about the ends justifying the means, getting the desired results regardless of the path taken. Politics now consist of ridiculing one’s opponent; mocking has replaced debating issues. In many of our churches identity has replaced God’s Word as the starting point for discovering truth.
The second sign consists of the deplorable racism, hate, and resulting violence we see on our streets. The animosity of Black Lives Matter (BLM) continues to result in the brutal murders of many policemen in our nation. Last week, we saw the vileness of of radical racist groups spill over into violence in Virginia. The words of 2 Timothy 3:1-7 have never been more relevant. Many today are indeed “slanderous, without self-control, brutal.” We see these things on both extremes in our nation.
The third sign is that of rejecting God as the Creator of life. Jesus said that God “from the beginning made them male and female.” The wholesale repudiation of Jesus and His words was clearly seen a couple weeks ago as the state of Minnesota decided to introduce transgenderism teaching into grade school classrooms telling young children that “your genitals don’t make you a boy or a girl.” I grieve for the irreversible damage this is causing to the youth of our country. The little petals are quickly falling to the ground, are they not?
Other indicators of the withering abound in our culture. Congress continues to fund an organization that performs one thousand abortions a day, and then profits from selling body parts from these precious unborn babies. Sex trafficking remains a huge problem in our nation while efforts by our president and some members of Congress to end it are stymied by many rich and powerful people—who themselves are involved in this great evil that harms so many young people.
How much longer can our rights and freedoms persist in such an environment?
Without a sense of the sanctity of human life, respect for individuality or the cherishing of our freedoms and justice—all which flow from our Judeo-Christian roots, the government will at some point forcibly impose its solutions upon the resulting chaos. This will be the beginning of the end or perhaps the end itself of so much that we cherish.
Is there any hope? Are we as a nation headed for disaster amidst the continuing strife, divisions, and resulting violence? Can we be reconnected to our roots or is our situation just as impossible as replanting a cut flower in the ground?
Millions of believers across our land continue to pray for our nation and its leaders. Nothing is impossible with God; He is sovereign and He can do all things. Jesus has already delayed His return to earth for a long time waiting for as many people to repent of their sins and find eternal life in Him (2 Peter 3:9).
On the other hand, the storm clouds of the Tribulation quickly approach. When that time of trouble arrives, the world will experience God’s response to its rejection of Jesus and His Word. That seven-year period of history will be the worst of all time as the Lord pours out His wrath upon the world because of its refusal to repent of its many sins (see Rev. 9:20-21).
So many biblical prophecies regarding the last days are coming to fulfillment before our eyes. The signs Jesus gave regarding the Tribulation and His return are everywhere; it’s almost as if Jesus was reading from today’s newspapers as He addressed His disciples in Matthew 24. If the Tribulation is ever so close, how much more so must the Rapture be since it occurs before the Tribulation?
Where are we? Is the flower about to fade away with no hope of restoration? I am not sure, but I do see a few things:
1) There is no hope for our nation apart from Jesus. The cutting away of our Judeo-Christian foundations was in essence a rejection of the words of our Lord and Savior. Only Jesus can deal with the hatred in the hearts of many in our nation. The violence we see on our streets will not end apart from people turning back to Him.
2) As followers of Christ, we must stay away from the anger around us as we point others to Jesus. Our hope does not rest in our culture turning itself around or in any political leader. While we cannot remain silent as strife overtakes our nation, we must remember God’s love in graciously forgiving all our sins as we call people to repent of theirs. One former pastor of mine put it this way, “We are just one beggar telling another where the bread is at.”
3) Regardless of what happens next, we have no reason to fear. Whether Jesus comes for us today or next month or sometime in the more distant future, He is our hope regardless of what we might suffer in this life. We have an amazing and joyous eternity ahead for us that will be spectacular beyond our wildest imagination! Don’t get caught up in the strife of this world and forget the overwhelming joy that awaits all of us whose trust is in Jesus.
I do believe Jesus is coming very soon to take us to His Father’s house. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If not, please call upon Him before it is too late. He lovingly waits to forgive all your sins and give you a hope that is truly out of this world.
Jonathan C. Brentner
Eternity Versus the Moment