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Take Back America Movement|
Q. My church has become very active in the "Take Back America" movement that is sweeping the country. Shouldn't this be something Christians support wholeheartedly? What can or should we do to bring back morality in our country and provide a better life for our children?
Terrific questions. Many American Christians have become involved in heated debates over whether we can or even should involve ourselves in community and national affairs. Let's look at this a little more critically.
America not a Covenant Nation
One thing to remember is that America is not a covenant nation like ancient Israel. This means we have no divine promises from God concerning our national status. While Israel had to fulfill her conditions for divine blessing, America as a nation has no special claim to the blessings of God that are in the Bible.
Blessings&Curses upon Christians
However, for those of us who are Christians, covenant blessings (or curses) do apply to us scripturally.
"If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29 NKJV).
The well-known and published exhortation in 2 Chronicles also applies to the church:
"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 will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14).
The Church - Key to Blessings
2 Chronicles 7:14 was a covenant promise for the nation of Israel. However, as Paul says, this principle is also true for the people of God at all times.
So this would include Christians and Jews. The promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 applies to Christians in the United States who may affect God's blessings upon their land.
Think of it. This is a sobering thought! We, the church, are the key to the blessings of our nation as a whole. That means God's blessings upon our nation depend upon us - the church - not upon the behaviors of the "pagan left."
God subdues Enemies
In Psalm 81:13-14 God says,
"Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries."
So, for a "nation" to be safe from its enemies, God's children within that nation must walk in the Lord's ways and allow Him to subdue their enemies for them. This does not mean we sit and do nothing, however.
Democracy or Die
We live in a country where aggression and a "pioneer" spirit are highly valued. We have learned to fight for our rights and to boldly stand up for the Constitution or for the democratic American way of life. This is a pervasive, deeply entrenched mind-set or worldview in our culture.
But, is this biblical?
Christians vs. Pagan Left
Many religious based political-activists are fighting the so-called Pagan Left. But, is this what God has really called Christians to do? Is this what will stop Almighty God from removing His Hand of blessing upon the United States? Should Christians be engaged in fighting against immoral law-makers and judges and against other inequities?
Some of our Finest
Indeed, some of our finest from the Religious Right such as James Dobson or James Kennedy inspire church members to write letters to Congress, sign petitions against immoral laws, and take the ACLU to task over its ambitions to remove religion from public schools. These seem like good deeds, don't they?
Take a Stand against Evil
The Religious Right has made the American ideal like the Old Testament stories of Joshua entering into the Promised Land while fighting against the immoral, evil cultures existing at that time.
Love our Enemies?
Yet, what do we do with Jesus telling us to "turn the other cheek," to bless and love our enemies, and to forgive others (including our worst enemies)?
What we tend to do is to theorize that this humble mind-set must apply to someone else - not to American Christians!
Just consider this: Will forcing unbelievers to accept moral behavior or pressuring secular politicians to enact Christian-based legislation encourage God to bless our nation? Is this what God is looking for in us? After all, it is God's blessing we seek for our great country, isn't it?
Of course it is. We seek God's blessing upon our country.
But, while these moral, political activities may be noble and even beneficial, theologians such as Pastor John MacArthur suggest that political activism and civic efforts such as these may only serve to alienate unbelievers from a saving gospel, which is what we are called to preach to a dying culture.
Religious Right Judged
MacArthur points out that Pharisaism in Jesus' day did not serve to avoid God's judgment in 70 A.D. when Jerusalem was destroyed by Romans. In fact, Jesus denounced the "Religious Right" and pronounced judgment upon them!
God Blesses only One Thing
There is only one thing that God blesses. It is a saving faith in His Son and true repentance on the part of His people. Then God will bless a nation for the sake of His children who happen to be living in that nation.
You see, we have it backwards! We think that if we force "them" to behave better then God must bless our country. But, the opposite is true. If we Christians do what we are supposed to, then God will bless us and our land. The unbelievers living in our land will prosper from the "fall out" of God's blessings upon His church.
It is only from the inside-out that we can change our nation. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
It is our prayers and personal holiness that changes things. Maybe "prayer" is biblical activism that effectively gets the job done. Maybe prayer and personal change is what God wants.
True Biblical Activism
In fact, if we wish to engage in "biblical activism" perhaps we should focus upon what Scripture defines as true religion. James says,
"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27, NASB).
Keeping oneself "unstained by the world" means our quest for personal holiness - not throwing out all the "gays" in the military. Visiting "orphans and widows in distress" could mean paying visits to foster kids, adopting older children, becoming a foster grandparent, and engaging lonely widows at church in meaningful activities. What do you think?
Changed by Saving Faith
Men are changed from the inside-out by revival and a saving faith in Jesus' death and resurrection. These are the ones who most keenly strive to live according to God's laws through His Holy Spirit. This makes them better people who are more productive and cooperative in today's society.
A Saved Nation
Unless we are a nation of saved men, we will continue to decline into immorality, thus bringing God's wrath upon us. Wrath is due when a society rejects God and suppresses human conscience. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth" (Ro. 1:18).
The most Fearful Wrath
The most fearful wrath we face is when God gives us over to our own sin. First, we sink into immorality (Romans 1:24). Then we embrace promiscuity and homosexuality (v.26-27). Finally, God gives us over to a debased mind (v. 28). This renders our minds spiritually useless and we become incapable of making sound moral judgments.
The Great Commission
To avoid this bleak future, we must work to fulfill the Great Commission with the help of the Holy Spirit. We must work in love and devotion to one another and help to save a lost and hurting society.
Therefore we can conclude that while "taking back our nation" sounds like a worthy and lofty goal, the truth is that men are changed from the inside-out. They need Christ in their lives - not our morally superior "criticism" about what and who they are or what they do.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19, ESV).
This is the dictim that will change lives and entire nations.
MacArthur, John. 2002. Can God bless America? (Tape or book). Nashville, TN: The W Publishing Group, a unit of Thomas Nelson.
The MacArthur Study Bible,NKJV. 1997. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
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