An Identity Crisis

Pastor Gary Messinger, Cedar Run Baptist Church, 18577 Route 414, Cedar Run, PA 17727


As I write this article, we as a nation recently observed Memorial Day and are now in the midst of celebrating the birth of our country. These are two important dates in the life of our nation, a nation I love. This country has afforded me tremendous opportunities and the freedoms to enjoy life: freedom of worship, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, just to name a few. Most importantly, I believe in the idea “that all men are created equal [and] that they are endowed by their Creator with certain…Rights” which are “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

I remember our country’s 200th birthday celebration in 1976. It seemed at the time that our entire country was united, and we were all proud to be Americans. Today, however, I fear we as a people are facing an identity crisis.

We have become a nation with two histories, two identities. One has a deep spiritual heritage with God at the center . It is a nation that recognized that our country was founded on Biblical Truths. The second identity has people seeking to depart from that Biblical heritage, pretending it does not exist or never existed. They rewrite history.

What is happening in our nation today reminds me of a time in Israel’s history when a clash of two identities took place at Mt. Carmel. Elijah was there to face off against 450 false gods; two identities: Elijah representing the one true God and 450 prophets of Baal representing false gods.  The Bible tells us that Elijah’s challenge to the people is written in 1 Kings 18:21, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him” (NIV).

Recently, my wife and I made a trip on Route 414 from Cedar Run to Route 6. It was a beautiful drive, but what struck me was all the small country churches along the way. Every hamlet, town, and village had at least one church. It reminded me of words written by Alexis De Tocqueville. In 1831, the French statesman and historian spent eight months touring America.

In his two-volume Democracy In America, he would write that he could sense the religious aspect of the country. He wrote, “There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America.” Words attributed to De Tocqueville also express the idea that America is a great country because America is good, but if America ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.

So my question for us is the same as Elijah’s: how long will we waver between two identities? Will it be one where God is in control and is the heart of our nation, or one void of God?  This choice will determine what our nation will look like in the future. This choice will determine if we even have an America in the future. Let us all pray we make the right choice.  Let us together claim the promises of 2 Chronicles 7:14 which are “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”