It happened forty-eight years ago. Three men: Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders, left earth on the Apollo 8 mission for a breathtaking voyage around the moon and back. Within months other astronauts would actually set foot on the moon, but this was the pioneering effort. Something occurred on that flight, however, that will always make it memorable to many of us. On Christmas Eve, as the Apollo rocket closed in on the moon and TV cameras gave us the sharpest details of the moon’s surface ever seen up to that time, the three men took turns reading the first ten verses from the book of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….”
It seems strange today to think that highly trained astronauts involved in a multi-billion dollar expedition would take the time to read publicly from the Bible. So secularized and divorced from God has every routine of life become that it is almost unthinkable that such an event could occur today. Protest groups of all kinds would demonstrate against NASA. Lawsuits would be filed by the ACLU. Space Administration personnel would be censored or fired. Astronauts would be relieved of command. But back then, it seemed so….normal. Why are we so ashamed of God? Why is public mention of Him in any context so off limits? Why are we trying to rewrite our nation’s textbooks so that every part He played is deleted? The Prophet Jeremiah complained: “Has a nation ever changed its gods?....But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols.” (Jeremiah 2:11). He might just as well have written that for 21st Century America.
But as disgraceful as this conduct is among Americans in general, I find it even more disgraceful when I see what is happening in the 21st Century Church. When was the last time you heard a fellow Christian say, in the context of everyday life, that he was grateful to God, or express an open and heartfelt appreciation of Him in any way? Certainly I understand the forces that are arrayed against Christians and the intimidation under which we live every day. But I also understand that we serve a God who is WORTHY to be praised and without Whom life would not be possible or desirable. If there are any injustices in life that need to be corrected, at the top of the list is definitely an under-appreciated Creator.
Those words forty-eight years ago were ten of the twenty-two most important words ever written. What are the other 12? “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son….”
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship