What is the greatest hymn of all time?
The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada recently addressed that question. In their annual conference in Dallas, they voted using their society’s website, on Facebook, and in person during a competition set up with brackets like the NCAA basketball tournament.
If you thought the answer is “Amazing Grace,” you need more grace. It turns out, “Holy, Holy, Holy” won the title.
I can see why.
In times like these, it’s deeply reassuring to sing to God, Holy, holy, holy / Though the darkness hide Thee / Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see / Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee / Perfect in power, in love, and purity.
We may not be able to see God in our culture, but nothing in today’s news changes his eternal character. This is a fact our souls need to claim.
Why Avengers: Endgame is the highest-grossing movie ever
In other less-than-surprising news, Avengers: Endgame has passed Avatar as the highest-grossing movie of all time. The popularity of a film with superheroes strong enough to defeat cataclysmic evil says something interesting about us.
It’s been fifty years and three days since humans first walked on the moon. Across these five decades, life in America has changed in almost unimaginable ways. On every level, it seems that we are a “tale of two cities.”
The information revolution has transformed our culture, from personal computers and mobile phones to the internet and social media. However, pornography and sex trafficking enabled by digital platforms have escalated as well.
Technological advances have revolutionized medical care but also introduced frightening possibilities such as genetically modified babies.
Home ownership is stagnant: 64.3 percent of Americans owned their home in 1969; 64.2 percent do so today. Violent crime has risen, as have property crime and larceny.
Civil rights, five decades later
Despite the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, progress over the five decades since has been especially challenging for African Americans.
Compared to fifty years ago, they are nearly twice as likely to have graduated from high school and more than twice as likely to have a college degree. However, they are half as likely as young whites to have a college degree.
While wages for black Americans have increased, they are 2.5 times more likely to be impoverished than whites; the median white family has almost ten times as much wealth as the median black family. And unemployment for African Americans is up from 6.7 percent in 1968 to 7.5 percent today.
In addition, the share of African Americans in prison or jail almost tripled between 1968 and 2016; it is currently more than six times the white incarceration rate. Research indicates that racial discrimination continues to persist in our criminal justice system:
- Black Americans are three times more likely to have their cars searched.
- They are arrested for drug crimes at twice the rate of whites, though whites use and sell drugs at comparable rates.
- They are more likely to be jailed while awaiting trial.
- They are more likely to be offered plea deals that include prison time.
- They are given longer sentences for the same crimes.
“Christ in you, the hope of glory!”
If the years after men first walked on the moon have taught us anything about life on earth, it is that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Creatures cannot govern our fallen planet without the word and power of our Creator. When we depart from biblical truth, we redefine marriage, gender, sexual morality, human dignity, and life itself.
The good news is, the Christ who made us stands ready to remake us (Colossians 1:16–17; 2 Corinthians 5:21). We do not have the capacity to change the world. But God does, through us.
Max Lucado: “When grace happens, Christ enters. Christ in you, the hope of glory! For many years, I missed this truth. I believed all the other prepositions: Christ for me, Christ with me, Christ ahead of me. But I never imagined that Christ was in me.”
Lucado adds: “I can’t blame my deficiency on Scripture. Paul refers to the indwelling of Christ 216 times. John mentions his presence 26 [times].” Then he notes: “No other religion or philosophy can make such a claim. No other movement implies the living presence of its founder in his followers. Muhammad does not indwell Muslims. Buddha does not inhabit Buddhists” (his italics).
He concludes: “The mystery of Christianity is summarized in Colossians 1:27: ‘Christ is in you!’ Little by little a new image emerges!”
Fifty years and fifty millennia from today
The Apollo 11 astronauts shaped history. You and I can shape eternity. Fifty years and fifty millennia from now, how we walk with Jesus and manifest him to the world will still resonate.
Will your culture see Christ in you today?