We are hearing today in some circles about the greatness of America. Some are saying "Let's make America great again."
Others say "America is already a great nation."
The question is - what makes America great? Is there a clear and perfect answer to what makes America the greatest country in all the world?
In 1831, some 188 years ago, Frenchman Alexis De Tocqueville and a friend came to America. They remained her for 271 days (9 months) searching for the answer to America's greatness.
We were a young nation of 24 states at that time. He spent those 9 months in 17 of these states searching for what makes America tick. He traveled in the cities and the countryside and in our factories, our farm lands, our schools and churches. He also spent time in Washington to get to know how democracy works for us. You can likely find his book, "Democracy in America," in your local library.
Alexis gave credit to all areas that were making a contribution to the growth of a young nation. But he concluded that America's greatness was found in the pulpits of her churches throughout this country. He heard powerful preaching from the Bible that changed lives and sent people out making an impact for God in America. They were "salt" and "light" as Jesus said about his followers. Thanks, Alexis, you were right about the greatness of America.
Some years ago, a prominent pastor was asked about what priority he gave to his preaching. He said, "I preach as a dying man to dying men. I preach as never to preach again. That's it."
The Rev. William P. Kelly, my grandfather, preached for 50 years up and down Sand Mountain. In 1940, at the age of 67, he preached 10 revivals and 102 people were saved. The Baptist State Paper reported that 72 of those converts were baptized in Town Creek. I have a picture of him baptizing 37 at one time. Rev. Kelly departed this life to meet the Lord in 1947.
Now it would be great to invite Alexis back to America again. He would find tens of thousands of churches with people in worship, serving the Lord and giving a witness that Jesus saves.
Yet the Bible, God's word, may be saying to many churches today, "Awake though that sleepest and arise from the dead and Christ shall give light" (Ephesians 5:14). And to others, the work in Amos 6:1 tells the people of God "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion."
Are we pleased in our comfort zone, living in luxury and having need of nothing? We have more than 300 churches across Marshall County. Let us all without fail make a lasting impact for Jesus Christ all across this county.
So, we are the church. We love the church, Jesus loves the church. He gave Himself for the church. He is coming back for the church. It may be soon. Let us all be ready!"
(Rev. Willis Kelly is a Korean War veteran and has preached all over Marshall County for 60-plus years. He's the retired long-time pastor of Solitude Baptist Church but continues to preach at churches around Marshall County. He has long been known for speaking out on moral issues that affect families.)