Never in our lifetime have we witnessed so much division and discord in America. Some say the issue is racism, which is definitely a major issue and always will be until people’s hearts are changed. Only Jesus can do that. Others point to the divide in Washington between paid politicians who can’t seem to agree on anything other than spending OUR money. (Our national debt is approaching $19 trillion.) Others would point to the recent Supreme Court ruling, legalizing blatant, brazen immorality. More specifically, sodomy.
At the root is a deeper, more distinct issue. Let me explain.
There’s a reason why there has to be standards in a nation like ours. No nation can exist for long without standards. Like an orchestra that has to have every instrument in tune or they can’t play a single song, the current discord in our nation is nothing more than the result of people and politicians who’ve decided we no longer need standards.
Up in Gaithersburg, Maryland, there’s an agency called the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It’s a federal agency, funded by your tax dollars, to make sure we’re all on the same page. Here’s how they describe it: “The Office of Weights and Measures promotes uniformity in U.S. weights and measures laws, regulations, and standards to achieve equality between buyers and sellers in the marketplace. This enhances consumer confidence, enables U.S. businesses to compete fairly at home and abroad, and strengthens the U.S. economy.”1 They go on to say that half of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product is affected by this agency, and would include retail food sales, transportation, chemicals, petroleum products, and chemicals.
Can you imagine what would happen in America, if all of a sudden there were no standards by which to do business? What would happen to the construction business, retail sales, or food sales, if there were different standards or no standards at all? One of the reasons people stop at a McDonald’s or Burger King when they’re traveling is because they know what they’re going to get. But what would happen if that suddenly changed? Travel to a foreign country, walk into a restaurant with an American name, and you’ll begin to get an idea of what I’m saying.
What if a gallon of milk in Springfield, Oregon, were only half a gallon in Springfield, Florida, but sold at the gallon price? Most people would say that’s unacceptable. Some would suggest it was criminal. Exactly. There have to be standards.
If you want to see what it looks like when there are no standards, just check out Judges 17:6, where it says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” In other words, there were no standards and there was no accountability. Everyone just did their own thing, and it was chaos.
There have to be standards. Whether you’re talking about stop signs, milk, 2 x 4s, medicine, clothing, automobiles or even musical instruments.
In his book, What Keeps You Up At Night, Pete Wilson writes: “Here’s something I didn’t know until recently: in centuries past, there was no standard tuning pitch for musical instruments. It varies from place to place, and sometimes, even from street to street within the same city. ‘What difference would that make?’ you may ask. Well, if you’ve ever gone to an orchestra concert, you may remember that the first thing that happens is the first-chair violinist, or concertmaster, walks out on stage (people usually clap; I’m not sure why). Then, the oboe player sounds a note. Next, the entire orchestra plays the same note, then different notes, as each performer makes sure his or her instrument is in sync with the tuning note. Once everybody is in tune, the conductor walks out (people clap again, even though nobody has really done anything yet), and soon the music begins.
It just so happens that the pitch the oboist plays for the tuning note is the A above middle C. To be precise, it is the A that is produced by 440 vibrations per second. Musicians usually call it A 440. If you go to a concert in Nashville, New York City, Berlin, Istanbul, or Tokyo, the orchestras will all tune to A 440. It is the modern standard concert pitch.
The advantage of this is that if you are a musician, no matter where you go in the world, you can play with other musicians and know that you will all be in tune (well, as long as everyone is paying attention). If you are a trumpet player from Chicago and you are perfuming as a guest artist with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, your instrument will blend with the rest of the group. All of you are calibrated to the same standard.
Now, can you start to see the problem musicians were having a few centuries ago? There was no universally accepted standard. Each musician could do his or her own thing – which was a real difficulty if they wanted to perform together.”2
Wilson continues, “Just as any musician knows that his or her instrument needs to be recalibrated to A 440 before any important session or performance, we need to know that our lives have to be recalibrated on a regular basis. We need to measure ourselves against the standard, and God has provided us the perfect tuning pitch to make sure we are living in tune with the way He has designed us to function.”3
We’re still called the United States of America. But it’s pretty clear we’re not all on the same page. Is there any hope for us? Can America be united again?
Only if we get in tune with God!
© 2015. Barry L. Cameron
1 U.S. Department of Commerce, "Weights and Measures." 19 May 2015, 1 July 2015 <http://www.nist.gov/pml/wmd/>.
2 Pete Wilson, What Keeps You Up At Night (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2015) 117-118.
3 Pete Wilson, 119.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.