Today (May 17) I worshiped at Pleasant Beach Baptist Church in Carter County, Tennessee. It is a country church sitting on the bank of the Watauga River in a little valley called Sandy Bottom. Today, the congregation was celebrating the 40th anniversary of their pastor, who is a friend of mine.
Pleasant Beach is a happy church and with good reason. Their worship is sincere. No pretense. When they voice a prayer it is an “up” prayer directed to the Heavenly Father and not an “out” prayer or just another closed-eyes message directed to the audience. The audience was a mixture of pretty white-haired ladies, families, youth, and children. All were church-dressed and reverent. Smiles and kindness were abundant. The large choir sang with spirit and enthusiasm. The pastor of 40 years left no doubt as to the mission of the church. All in all the church just had an aura of safety about it. It was a house of righteousness.
While sitting an listening I recalled what Alexis de Tocqueville, who wrote Democracy in America, observed in our churches. He traveled to these shores in the early 19th century to learn the mysteries of American character and power. De Tocqueville surveyed all the assets of America that were unique to the world, but rejected those assets as a source of American strength. He said he discovered the true strength and genius of America in its houses of worship, describing them as flame with righteousness. DeTocqueville concluded, and declared, with a warning; ” America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
All the cultural decadence, sin, and now financial calamities have made people in all walks of life to wonder about America’s future and indeed survival.
But, like de Tocqueville, Pleasant Beach answered that question for me. Righteousness is the sustaining force. As long as the Pleasant Beaches of the world hold out there really is hope.
There is a national cure for our condition found in the scriptures. It is found in 2Chronicles 7 and goes: ” If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
As Pleasant Beach goes, so goes the nation.