America is waiting for the redacted version of the Mueller Report to be published later this morning. We will not be able to read the report in its entirety since it contains information that was presented to a grand jury and is therefore subject to secrecy rules.
In addition, intelligence officials will redact information that could compromise sensitive sources and methods or hamper other current investigations. And the Justice Department will redact information it believes unfairly infringes on the privacy of “peripheral third parties” and damages their reputations.
What difference, then, will the report make?
Not much in the minds of most voters, apparently. A recent survey found that the report “may not change the minds of many Americans about the president. Barring a bombshell revelation, voters are likely to view the report through the prism of their partisan identities.”
Five lies that explain our culture
Pick a subject, from the president to abortion to gender identity to the environment. Can you think of a single significant issue on which Americans are largely agreed?
What is causing our nation’s cultural divides to grow ever deeper and more vitriolic?
Writing for the New York Times, columnist David Brooks offers some diagnoses of our cultural condition that merit significant attention and personal application. His bottom line: “We’ve created a culture based on lies.” Five of them, to be specific.
Here they are:
One: Career success is fulfilling.
Brooks notes that such success “alone does not provide positive peace or fulfillment. If you build your life around it, your ambitions will always race out in front of what you’ve achieved, leaving you anxious and dissatisfied.”
Two: I can make myself happy.
This is the lie of self-sufficiency and the deception that happiness is an individual accomplishment. By contrast, “happiness is found amid thick and loving relationships. It is found by defeating self-sufficiency for a state of mutual dependence. It is found in the giving and receiving of care.”
Three: Life is an individual journey.
People who live best invest in people and community. Then, “by planting themselves in one neighborhood, one organization or one mission, they earn trust. They have the freedom to make a lasting difference. It’s the chains we choose that set us free.”
Four: You have to find your own truth.
According to Brooks, “The reality is that values are created and passed down by strong, self-confident communities and institutions.”
Five: Rich and successful people are worth more than poorer and less successful people.
This lie claims that “you are what you accomplish” and that “if you perform well, people will love you.”
Brooks concludes: “No wonder our society is fragmenting. We’ve taken the lies of hyper-individualism and we’ve made them the unspoken assumptions that govern how we live.
“We talk a lot about the political revolution we need. The cultural revolution is more important.”
The spiritual revolution we need
I agree completely. But I also believe that behind such a cultural revolution lies a spiritual revolution we need even more.
Today is Maundy Thursday. Tonight, Jesus will pray in the Garden of Gethsemane so fervently that his sweat will become “like great drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). This night he will choose to take our collective sins on his sinless soul and die in our place as our atoning sacrifice.
What happened in the Garden of Gethsemane is the remedy for what happened in the Garden of Eden. There, humanity believed the lie that we can “be like God” (Genesis 3:5). That lie is the foundation of every lie David Brooks exposed and every temptation we face.
It is the lie that we have the right to choose whether unborn children live or die, that we can decide our gender and view pornography and have sex outside of heterosexual marriage and ignore the poor without consequence. It is the lie that our lies aren’t lies, that truth is what we say it is and God is who we believe him to be.
Jesus’ death reveals the lie behind our cultural lies. If we could experience abundant life in any way except through the cross, the Father would not have sent his Son to Calvary to be tortured and executed. If we could be fulfilled and happy without God—if we could do life on our own, find our own truth, and do enough to be truly significant—Jesus would have made a different choice in Gethsemane.
Choosing Eden or Gethsemane
I invite you to reread David Brooks’ list and see whether you’re living by any of the lies he exposes. Then I invite you to choose a Garden: Eden or Gethsemane.
Will you be your own God today? Or will you make your Savior your Lord? Will you submit your day to his Spirit and serve him in gratitude for his grace?
Which Garden would God say you inhabited yesterday?
Which do you choose today?