What is the Missing Ingredient in American Soil?

As we look back on America’s history and consider her heroes of the past this Memorial Day, we cannot help but wonder—what is missing today?

I am not a farmer, though I have lived in the country, I am not a farmer. Really, I am a city boy. I ought not to pretend to be a farmer. I grew up on the main street in Maryville, Tennessee on Broadway across from the Dwarf Restaurant, if you were ever there years ago. That was where I lived, right on the main street, in the busy section of town. I could hardly go to sleep at night without the sound of automobiles. I had to listen to them. Matter of fact, if you had gotten me out somewhere where it was perfectly peaceful and quiet, and no street lights were breaking through the windows in the middle of night, I would have had a hard time sleeping. I guess the sound of crickets and all that kind of stuff would have kept me awake all night long.

But I do know a little bit about the country, and I know a little bit about farming and planting. I have worked with some folks who have done much of that. I know that in certain parts of the world, and our country especially, people take soil samples to find out what ingredients are in the soil and what that soil can produce. When they get the sample tested and they get back the results, they know what they have to add to the soil to get the proper results.

I think that if you test the soil of the soul of America, you are going to find one missing ingredient. That ingredient that is missing is concern, compassion; just plain old caring. If you check the soil, you will find a lot of hatred, a lot of bitterness, malice, fear, anger, unbelief, impatience. You name it, we have got it. I wonder who cares, who really cares.

I want to ask you a question: do you still care or did you ever care? Do you care? It is like the fellow who was questioned on the street about the number one problem in America and the interviewer said, “Can you tell me what is wrong with this country?”

He said, “Man, I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

The interviewer replied, “I think you have hit the nail on the head, ignorance and unconcern.” Maybe that is where we are today.

Years ago, I asked Dr. Roberson what he thought the number one problem in the church was.

He said without blinking an eye, “Indifference.” People just do not care. They can take it or leave it, come or go, it does not matter. They just do not care.

One day, one of the staff men and I were walking through the building, and we were watching a lady paint a part of the building and he said to me, “Isn’t it interesting and amazing what a little paint can do to improve things.”

I said, “No, it is amazing what a little concern can do to change things.” It was not the paint, it was something behind the paint. Someone cared enough to paint it. Someone was concerned enough to paint it. Someone thanked God enough to paint it. We have got to care.

I would say to you that the foremost need in the life of every child of God is compassion. My heart breaks because it is not broken. We should weep because we do not weep. We should have tears over the fact that we do not have tears. Nothing ought to stir us up anymore, folks, than our hearts have grown hard and calloused and careless. The missing ingredient in American soil is concern.

The woman painted the wall because she cared how the place looked. She did not have to be ordered to do it. She did not have to be paid to do it. She did not have to have someone to stand over the top of her to do it. She just cared. People help people and people change things, and people take care things when they care.

You could have not paid my mother to be my mother, but she was my mother and performed the duties and responsibilities of a mother because she loved me. You could not pay a man and a woman to walk the floor with a sick baby at night. You could not pay people to do that. They do that because they love and they care. That is what we need.

The Bible says in Psalm one twenty six and verse five, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” God talks about sowing and reaping. That is a law of the Bible. Remember, God wrote to us in the New Testament, “…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Could it be that the word that most adequately describes our world today is the word impersonal? We are not people anymore, we are just numbers and figures and faces and statistical information to be fed into a computer. People are like buildings and things and objects. The eternal soul that God has created is no longer personal, no longer caring.

I do not know what people look for when they walk in our church, but I know one thing: they can feel. They can feel when you sing if there is a note of compassion in it. I am not talking about middle C or high B flat, I am talking about a note of compassion. They can feel that. When people come into a church and we greet folks and deal with people the right way, they can feel it. If compassion is there, they can feel it. They can tell if it is an atmosphere of love and care. That is the way it ought to be. That is what people need.

The future is as bright as the promises of God. Christian people should be seeking the heart of God so they will have His love for others.