During a pivotal scene in the original version of the film “Footloose”— John Lithgow’s character, Reverend Shaw Moore, is made aware of a protest which is taking place at the town library.

After running over to see what is happening, he finds a group of people from the church burning books which they deem to be “evil.”

Shocked at what he witnesses, the pastor immediately rebukes them:

“When did you decide to sit in judgment?

When you’ve burned all of these, what are you gonna do then?

Satan is not in these books, he’s in here … He’s in your hearts.

Go on home, all of you. Go and sit in judgment of yourselves.”

Today, when I see cities in The United States being laid waste in the name of eradicating evil by tearing down the corrupt systems of America, I think the same thing.

After all the the buildings have burned; after people’s neighborhoods, businesses and vehicles have been destroyed; after all the statues and flags have been torn down… What are you gonna do then?

Because hatred, racism, inequality, and corruption don’t reside in systems, symbols, or statues— they reside in the heart.

Jesus said: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts— murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person” ( Matt. 15:19-20 )

And after this revolution has run its course, our nation’s cities will be left in ruins, but the evil in the hearts of men and women shall remain— because no statue or flag being raised or torn down; no law or legislation being passed or repealed will restrain evil or cleanse the collective heart of the country— Only God does that through The Holy Spirit.

Notice what The Lord told the nation of Israel through the prophet Ezekiel:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness.

I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine.

Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices.

I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!” ( Ezekiel 36 )

Look— Our nation is not in turmoil because of any president, politician or political party.

Our nation is in turmoil because it has followed its heart and turned away from God— and God deserves and apology.

If we go home and judge ourselves, we will see that our sin is the root cause of all that is wrong in America; we will be ashamed of our conduct and we will call out as did the ancient Israelites in the day of Ezekiel:

“Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”

Then God will respond with compassion:

“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die…?”

If we want this nation to survive; if we want the heart of The United States of America to be healed, we must lay down our pride and then turn to God in repentance and faith— It’s that simple.

Repent Believe Persevere