Was Abraham Lincoln Right?
Jim DalyJim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
- 2011 Nov 08
A colleague recently shared with me a quote from Abraham Lincoln. It dealt with his perspective on public opinion and its impact on the direction of America, as well as the power of culture to shape politics and law:
In this age, in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.
That’s a statement that just as easily could have been uttered today. Indeed, there is power in public opinion – for good and bad.
Case in point: Do you ever catch the results of a new poll regarding culture and morality and find yourself discouraged? Do you sometimes feel like you're running uphill when sharing a Christian perspective, be it at work, school or in the neighborhood?
It is human nature, I think, to find ourselves in the midst of challenging times (both spiritually and morally) and conclude that what we’re experiencing is unprecedented. To be sure, every era is unique, but the arc of history is long – and often circular. Previous generations have also encountered difficulty.
Public opinion is a powerful force, but the Christian must never lose hope. We must instead embrace the Bible as our ballast, taking comfort and finding assurance in its promise that all is ultimately well for the person who believes Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord of all. Nothing can weaken or diminish this fact.
There is miraculous resilience in the human spirit to do what God has designed us to do. Just think of all the forces arrayed against humanity – wars, poverty, crime, divorce, fatherlessness, various addictions, emotional depression and yet somehow the kernel of truth that says "God is" is not extinguished.
Regardless of how negative public sentiment might turn, no matter how challenging the moment, this I know to be true:
Nobody will succeed in obliterating God from the heart of man. Forces will continue to try, and they’ll put up quite a fight in the process. But the effort will ultimately fail, and miserably so.
I like what Dr. Billy Graham once said: "Believers, look up - take courage. The angels are nearer than you think!"
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